What Every Pet Owner Needs To Know About Heat Stress
Summer is here! Before heading out for a fun day at the beach with your furry companion, it is essential to protect them from heat stress. Heat stress is a health hazard that can occur due to scorching environmental conditions. Pets are particularly susceptible to heat stress because their smaller body mass and lower thermoregulatory capacity make them more likely to experience elevated body temperatures, especially during summer.
What is Heat Stress?
Heat stress is the body's response to prolonged periods of high temperature. It can take hours, days or even weeks for severe cases of heat stroke to develop.
The first sign that your pet may be suffering from heat strain is behavioural changes such as panting heavily or excessive drooling after exercise, which occur when the brain signals that it needs more oxygen than normal. If you notice this behaviour in your dog or cat during hot weather conditions, then there's a good chance they are suffering from hyperthermia. In this severe condition, your pet's internal organs cease functioning properly due to dehydration and/or overheating.
Symptoms of Heat Stress
Signs of heat stress are easy to recognize, but sometimes they may not always be obvious. If you have a pet with unusual symptoms, check with your veterinarian to ensure they're not suffering from a more severe condition.
- Excessive salivating
- Dry nose and gums
- Rapid heartbeat or fast breathing rate
- Unusual behaviour such as trembling or disorientation
- Breathing difficulties
More Serious signs may include vomiting, dark purple coloured tongue, and seizures which may lead to death.
Ways to Keep Your Pet Cool
There are several effective ways to keep your fur baby happy and healthy this summer.
- If you have a particularly sensitive pet to heat, keep them inside until the weather cools down. Make sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water available at all times, and make sure they have access to shade and cool areas.
- Let your pup enjoy pool days on a regular basis. You can hose them down if a pool is unavailable; most dogs love to play with water, especially from a hose.
- For smaller or senior pets that cannot swim, use a spray bottle or a wet cloth to pat them down.
- Make icy treats for your pet. These can easily be made with your pet's favourite treats.
- Always keep an eye on your pet, so they are not exposed to hot conditions longer than necessary.
- Avoid leaving pets in cars for long periods, or not at all, especially during hot summers. Pets can suffer heat stress within the first 6 minutes of excess heat exposure.
- Don't leave pets in hot rooms with limited ventilation like basements, garages, and attics.
If you suspect your pet has heat stress, immediately take them to a vet. They will be able to help diagnose the condition and provide treatment if needed.
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