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Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a very serious and life threatening condition which can occur when your pet overheats and is unable to reduce their core body temperature.

Extreme heat and/or humidity or exercising during these times increase the risk of pets suffering heat stroke. Pets that are obese, suffering from medical conditions (like heart or lung issues) or short-nosed breeds (like Pugs or British Bulldogs) are also more susceptible. If a pet is confined with no ventilation, air circulation or shade, on hot surfaces or in a car they are also at high risk of suffering from heat stroke.

As a pet owner it is important to know the signs and symptoms of heat stroke, which include;

  • Rapid panting
  • Staggering, weakness or lethargy
  • Gums and tongue might appear dark or bright red and be sticky or dry
  • Salivating or drooling
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea – possibly with blood
  • Rectal temperature will be between 40-43 degrees
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Some things that you can do to help lower your pets core body temperature if they are overheating or possibly suffering from heat stroke include;

  • Moving them into a cool, shaded place
  • Use cool, not freezing, water to cool them down by putting wet towels on their body, feet and head.
  • Offer small amounts of cool, not freezing water, to drink
  • If you have a fan or air-conditioning this will help to aid in the evaporation and cooling.
  • These steps can also be done in the car (while someone else is driving) on the way to the vet.

If you ever suspect that your pet is suffering from heat stroke contact your veterinarian immediately. Getting heat stroke treated quickly is instrumental in survival and recovery as it can progress rapidly and cause organ damage. It is always best that you speak to your vet and get your pet a check up, even if it seems the condition has improved or if it was a mild case.

Originally published in My Pet Magazine Summer 2014-2015.
To view all issues of My Pet Magazine click here.

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