Heatstroke in pets: How hot is too hot for cats and dogs?

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Temperature reached more than 36C this week and have put animals at risk, since heat exhaustion is deadly to cats and dogs. Express.co.uk reveals how to keep your pets safe in a heatwave.

It is easy for cats, dogs and other furry friends to overheat in their warm coats and suffer terrible heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

Heatstroke happens when your pet overheats and their body temperature rises.

If your pet has heatstroke, this is emergency situation and not something to take lightly.

Never ignore heatstroke, you should always ring a vet as soon as you spot the symptoms.

READ MORE- Can you give dogs or cats ice cubes in hot weather?

According to the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), heatstroke affects pets with the following features the most:

• Flat-faced breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Persian cats, and Netherland dwarf of Lionhead rabbits
• Pets with very thick fur
• Old or very young pets
• Overweight pets
• Pets with breathing or lung problems

How hot is too hot for cats and dogs?

RSPCA vet Dr Michael Lazaris suggested that you must look out for your cat or dog when temperatures are higher than 30C.

He said: “It’s really important to take extra care of our pets during the hot weather as heat exhaustion is a life-threatening condition.

“Prevention is much better than a cure so try to keep your pets indoors or in a cool, shaded area when the temperatures are hitting 30C and higher.”

However, it is important to note that even temperatures as low as 20C can cause heat stroke.

Heatstroke symptoms in animals

The symptoms of heatstroke vary from one species to another, but are mostly the same for cats and dogs.

The early signs include:

  • Panting heavily
  •  Appearing to be upset or distressed
  •  Dribbling more than usual
  • Foaming at the mouth.

If you don’t spot these symptoms early, your pet might start to show more serious signs such as:

  • Bright red gums
  • Collapsing
  • Blood coming from their mouth or nose
  • Temors and seizures.

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How to protect your pet in the sun

You need to keep your pet cool, so keep them indoors in a cool area during the hottest part of the day (between 3pm and 4.30pm, usually).

Whether they are inside or outside, make sure your animals have access to shade and fresh drinking water at all times.

Sarah James Vet Nurse and Bought By Many’s Technical Claims Manager said: “Despite the heat, it is still a good idea for your pet to get outside in the garden for some fresh air, however, make sure they are shaded as pets get sunburned too!

“Remember, some human sunscreens can be harmful to pets, so utilising shade via trees is best as they allow a nice amount of airflow.

“If there’s no garden shaded space available, you can create some by putting a double duvet cover over a rotary washing line.

“Alternatively, let your pet lie on floor tiles with the windows open to keep them cool.”

Sarah explained the importance of keeping your pet cool with water.

She said: “It’s important to encourage your pet to drink more water during hotter weather to stop them becoming dehydrated.

“An easy way to cool them down is by putting ice cubes in their water bowl, and guiding them to their water bowl throughout their day. Be sure to top it up regularly.

“Giving ice cubes on their own to your pet that is already too warm can upset their body’s cooling system (as it is already working at maximum capacity).

“The best thing to do here is give them tepid water and only give cool water for pets that are of a normal temperature.”

You could make them an ice lolly from pet-friendly ingredients using an ice lolly mould, or fill a paddling pool of water in the garden.

Avoid exercising your pet when it is this hot, or try taking them out very early in the morning or late in the evening when it is cooler.

If the pavement is too hot to touch, it is definitely too hot to take your pet out for a walk or let them sit on a concrete floor outdoors.

You could buy a cooling mat, wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel, or use damp towels to make a bed for your pet to lie on.

What to do if your pet has heatstroke?

If your pet does develop heatstroke, ring the vet immediately and get their advice. You will probably need to bring your pet in to the vet.

According to the PDSA, the vet will probably advise you to try and cool them down before embarking on the journey:

• Pour small amounts of cool water on them – don’t use ice cold water as this can cause shock. For small pets, it’s better to use a cool, wet towel to dampen their fur as pouring water on them can do more harm than good.

• Put them in front of a fan.

• You can drape a cold towel over your pet – although make sure not to leave this on for more than five minutes, as the towel will start to act as an insulating blanket and make the problem worse.

• Let them drink small amounts of cool water.

Let your pet’s breathing settle and then bring them to the vet, even if they seem perfectly fine.

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