Warmer days are always nicer, especially when you’re getting out and about with your dog. However, it’s important to remember that our pets don’t tolerate the heat as well as we do. When we get hot, we start to sweat. Dogs and cats can only do this through the pads on their paws. Instead, they rely on panting to keep them cool.

Panting can only control body temperature up to a certain point. During times of high temperatures and humidity, panting many no longer be enough to cool your pet. This leads to an increased risk of heat stroke in our pets. Combined with excessive exercise or a lack of shade, this can be fatal.

What is Heat Stroke?

Like humans, dogs can develop heatstroke in two main ways. Environmental heat stroke occurs after exposure to high temperatures while exertional, or exercise-related, heat stroke occurs during or after exercise and can happen at any time of the year. Heat stroke happens when your pet is no longer able to cool itself and its body temperature can no longer be controlled.

When body temperature exceeds 40 degrees, irreversible damage can start occurring including brain damage and multiple organ failure, so they may require immediate care at an emergency vet clinic. Certain breeds are more prone to heat stroke. This includes dog breeds like pugs and boxers and cat breeds like Persian, British Shorthair, Himalayan and Scottish Fold.

Avoid Sudden Increases in Temperature

Perhaps the most well-known situation where heat is dangerous for pets is the danger of leaving them in a hot car. Pets are much more vulnerable to sudden, extreme temperature changes like in a car. In fact, dogs need up to two months to acclimatise to high temperatures according to The Conversation.

Temperatures in cars can reach temperatures of 40 degrees within ten minutes of being parked in the full sun. Never leave pets in the car. Leaving windows partially open does not help keep it cool. If parked in the shade, keep in mind that the position of the sun can quickly change how much shade your car is getting. If it’s hot while driving, keep the air con on while your pet is with you.

Water, Shade and Extra Care With Exercise

Simply exercising or playing in warmer weather can also cause heat stroke in a surprisingly short time – a ten minute walk is enough. Aim to exercise your dog during the cooler parts of the day. Ensure your cat has plenty of access to shade and fresh water, whether they are outdoor or indoors.

When walking your dog, ensure you are properly supervising their activity as they often don’t know when to stop. To avoid exercising in the full sun, try alternatives such as walking in woodlands or brain games at home.

Searching for an Emergency Vet in Sydney?

If your dog or cat is suffering from heat stroke, it’s essential it receives immediate are at a veterinary hospital. Contact us for emergency veterinarian services and after-hours care. Phone us on (02) 9197 5800.