Summer Heat Awareness30 Nov 2021

This summer is already shaping up to be a warm one! This hotter summer weather can cause serious problems for our pets. Our pets are very susceptible to heatstroke as their bodies are covered with insulating fur and they are not able to sweat to dissipate heat as we do. Heatstroke occurs when your pet’s core body temperature rises more quickly than they can cool themselves. This increase in core body temperature is serious and can lead to fatal complications, including seizures, damage to internal organs and blood clotting disorders, which can in severe cases lead to death.

To prevent heatstroke occurring, all pets require access to cooler areas with plenty of water and airflow. If inside, they need adequate ventilation and if outside they must have access to shade. Some breeds especially brachiocephalic (short-nosed cats and dogs) are more at risk of heatstroke due to their anatomy.

A common cause of heatstroke occurs when pets are left unattended in cars. Pets should NEVER be left in cars, even with the windows cracked, even for only a few minutes as temperatures in cars can reach very high levels on warm days in a very short period of time.

Excercise should be in the morning or evening to avoid the heat during the middle of the day. This is to try and prevent heatstroke but also avoid paw injuries due to hot asphalt/concrete as these can reach very high temperatures causing burns and damage to your pet’s paws. A simple rule to remember is if it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot then it’s too hot for your pet’s paws.

Longer furred pets can be clipped to remove thick fur coats and allow them to cool more effectively. Clipping also allows them to dry quicker after swimming and can help to prevent hotspots from developing. Other options to cool pets include making large ice blocks out of water, providing water baths or hosing down your pet. Inside pets can benefit from a fan or having a heat pump on a timer set to a cool temperature.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Any animal suspected of having heatstroke should receive immediate veterinary assessment.