Owning a pet is one of life’s great joys, but it’s also a lot of responsibility. These little creatures rely on you for food, shelter and care. It’s one thing to offer pats and cuddles, but to really express love for your pets you should always be aware of what health issues may affect them.
As temperatures soar, a common issue that all caring pet owners should be aware of is heatstroke (also known as heat stress). With the heat of the summer months, the number of cats and dogs visiting the vet due to this condition rises. Unfortunately many pet owners do not even realise that their cats and dogs can overheat when the weather is hot, and may only seek treatment at the eleventh hour.
While heat stress is more common in warmer months, it can occur at any time throughout the year even when the weather is mild.
Cats and dogs cannot respond to heat in the same way that us humans do. We have sweat glands all over our bodies that help us regulate our temperature, but dogs and cats only have a few in their feet and around their noses. Many animals rely on panting and external cooling to lose heat. Their long thick hair coats can also predispose them to heat stroke.
Because they’re not able to cool themselves down as easily as us, we have to be extra careful to provide them with a cool, well-ventilated and shaded environment with access to clean fresh drinking water. Pets are very susceptible to heat stroke – and it can happen a lot faster than you may think.
Heatstroke is a state of hyperthermia (elevated core body temperature above the normal range) resulting in heat injury to tissues. Heatstroke occurs when heat generation exceeds the body’s ability to lose heat.
The good news is that you can help to prevent heatstroke by ensuring your pets are kept in appropriate environmental conditions and being aware of the symptoms so action can be taken swiftly.
Help your best friend keep their cool and enjoy Summer with a bit of knowledge and a backup plan. As long as you take into consideration the following rules, both you and your pet can enjoy the Summer safely:
Know how to do Emergency First Aid at home if you suspect your pet has heatstroke. Initial emergency treatment at home should aim to normalise body temperature.
Vets are trained to assess the severity of the heatstroke and then provide emergency medical treatment as required. They will check your pet’s body temperature and vital signs and then instigate emergency treatment which may include:
** NOTE ** All animals are susceptible to heatstroke so owners need to make sure that they take active steps to prevent it. However, some other reported predisposing factors can include:
Did you know that cats are thought to have evolved from desert animals? This may be why some cats have a propensity to drink minimal water, so dehydration is a big risk in Summer.
Many people are aware of heatstroke in dogs but many are less aware that cats can also suffer from heatstroke.
Signs of heatstroke in cats are similar to signs in dogs, however they may be more subtle and can include:
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your cat or if you suspect heatstroke, instigate Emergency First Aid at home and then take your cat to the vet immediately.
Vets are trained to assess the severity of the heatstroke and then provide emergency medical treatment as required. They will check your cat’s body temperature with a thermometer and check their vital signs and then instigate emergency treatment which may include:
** NOTE ** All cats are susceptible to heatstroke so owners need to make sure that they take active steps to prevent it. However, some other predisposing factors for cats can include:
Brachycephalic anatomy (flat-face) is a major risk factor for heatstroke. Adequate snout length is very important for losing body heat. Flat-faced breeds also often suffer from serious obstructive breathing problems which also significantly impairs their ability to lose heat.
Flat-faced cat breeds include: