Summer is has hit and as we crank up that air con it’s important to remember that our pets are feeling the heat too.  Heat stroke is a very serious but preventable condition, so grab a cool drink and read on for some hot facts and tips to help your furry friends this summer.

The normal temperature for a dog is between 37.5-39.2 degrees Celsius. Unlike us, dogs don’t sweat to cool down, they lose most of their heat via panting, radiating heat and seeking cool environments and surfaces to lie on. If body temperature goes above normal range for too long the body’s cells are no longer able to function. Blood clotting is affected, there is massive inflammation within the body and eventually organs begin to shut down. If not treated quickly heat stroke can be fatal.

Risk factors

  • High temperatures(>30 degrees)
    • cars, sheds, no shade/water
    • excessive exercise – eg. running and hunting
    • humidity >80%
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
    • heart disease, respiratory disease
  • Short nosed breeds – e.g. pugs, bull dogs, frenchies
    • the airways in these breeds are cramped so they have to work a lot harder to breathe
    • the effort of panting generates more heat and becomes a vicious cycle

Clinical Signs

  • Early:
    • Excessive panting
    • Weak or wobbly
    • Bright pink or red gums
    • Vomiting
  • Later:
    • Collapse
    • pale blue/grey gums +/- red spots
    • bloody diarrhoea and urine

What Can You Do?

  • Exercise your dog early in the morning or in the evening
  • Always make sure there is fresh cool water
  • Give your pet ice blocks and frozen treats
  • Have a paddle pool for your pooch to cool off in
  • Never lock your dog in the car, even with the windows open

If you think your pet might have heat stroke call the vet immediately. Start cooling your dog by hosing with cold water and placing in front of a fan.