Heatstroke in Cats & Dogs
Heatstroke usually occurs in the summer months when it is hot and your pet's core body temperature rises above normal at a faster rate than their bodies can cool themselves down. This could make their entire body take an inflammatory response, which can result in organ failure and even be fatal.
Other factors that can cause heatstroke in cats and dogs include excessive exercise, not enough shade, dehydration, a warm/ humid environment without enough circulation, such as being in an unventilated car or being left outside on a hot day.
The following factors could increase your pet's risk of heatstroke:
- Thick fur/ coat
- Age ( young or old pets)
- Flat-faced pets ( Himalayan cats, Persian cats, bulldogs, Scottish terriers, etc.)
If you believe your pet has heatstroke it is considered an emergency that requires immediate veterinary care.
Heatstroke Symptoms in Dogs & Cats
There are several signs you should watch out for to determine if your cat or dog has heat exhaustion/ heatstroke and we have listed them below:
- Panting ( most often seen in dogs but, can occur in cats with heatstroke)
- No or little urine
- Delirium/ mental confusion
- Red or pale gums
- Muscle tremors
- Red tongue
- Heart rate increase
- Distressed breathing
- Rapid breathing
If you notice any of these symptoms contact your vet right away as heatstroke is a very serious condition that requires urgent care.
First Aid Care for Heatstroke in Dogs & Cats
Before taking your pet to the vet or if you can't get there immediately there are several things you can do to bring down your cat or dog's body temperature at home.
- First, remove them from the hot environment as fast as you can.
- Place cool (not cold) water or cloths on their bodies to help cool them down. Don't use ice packs, ice cubes or cold water as it can make their condition worse.
- Aim a fan at them to implement evaporative cooling.
- Keep the air conditioner on the entire time you are in the car taking them to the vet.
- Your pet has to be cooled down gradually, trying to cool your cat or dog too quickly will only make the situation worse, never use ice or ice-cold water.
Call your vet to inform them of your emergency and to let them know you are on your way, they may even provide you with further instructions on how to help your pet, before you get to the animal hospital.
Preventing Your Pet From Getting Heatstroke
The best treatment for heatstroke is to prevent it from happening altogether, always follow these steps to keep your beloved cat or dog safe from the heat.
- Make sure your pet always has access to shade and fresh drinking water, especially when they are outside in the heat.
- Keep your pet inside on hot days and only bring them outside for bathroom breaks.
- Do not leave your pet in a car it can kill them, even on mild day's the temperature in a vehicle can rise very rapidly.
- Keep your pet off of hot surfaces with little or no shade such as asphalt, concrete, and stone.
- Keep a water area in the shade such as a kiddie pool or sprinkler so your dog can cool themselves off and have fun while they are outside.
- Always keep inside areas well ventilated with fans or/ and air conditioning.
- Do not take your pet outside for exercise during the day when it is hot out, wait for the evening time when the air is cooler.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.