Heatstroke in Cats and Dogs
Heatstroke is most common during the summer months when the weather is hot and your pet's core body temperature rises faster than their bodies can cool down. This could cause an inflammatory response throughout their entire body, resulting in organ failure and even death.
Excessive exercise, insufficient shade, dehydration, and a warm/ humid environment with insufficient circulation, such as being in an unventilated car or being left outside on a hot day, are all factors that can cause heatstroke in cats and dogs.
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.
Signs and Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs and 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.
How to Treat Heatstroke in Cats & Dogs
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 cloth 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.
Before you arrive at the animal hospital, call your veterinarian to inform them of your emergency and to let them know you're on your way; they may even give you additional instructions on how to help your pet.
Preventing Heatstroke in Cats & Dogs
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. Even on a mild day, 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.
- Alway's 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.