How to deal with heatstroke

Help prevent heatstroke during the warmer months

Summer means longer days, warmer weather and more time outside playing with pets. But it’s important to remember that pets can be a lot more sensitive to the heat than us, with heatstroke being one of the most common illnesses during the warmer months.

Heatstroke happens when your pet’s body overheats, usually due to overexposure to the sun and heat. The only way for most pets like cats, dogs and small mammals to release heat and regulate their temperature is through their paws and around their nose, so they try and keep themselves cool by panting.

When pets can no longer self-regulate their temperature at a comfortable level, the effects of heatstroke kick in and urgent treatment is needed straight away.

What are the signs of heatstroke?

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Barking or whining
  • Very red gums
  • Drooling more than usual
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Staggering, weakness or collapsing

How do you prevent heatstroke?

  • Keep your pet well groomed, particularly breeds with very thick, long fur.
  • Make sure your pet has access to plenty of fresh, clean water.
  • Avoid walking your dog during the hottest parts of the day. Instead, head out early in the morning or in the evening.
  • If possible, keep your pet in a shaded area while they’re outside.

What should you do if your pet is suffering?

Although we normally associate heatstroke with dogs, don’t forget cats and smaller pets like rabbits can also suffer in the heat.

If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke, or if you’re unsure and need advice, call your local Medivet practice immediately.

Remember, dogs suffer in hot cars.

"Not long" is too long.  Leaving dogs in cars can be fatal, even with an open window.  If you see a dog alone in a hot car, please call 999 immediately.

For advice on the health of your pet, speak to your local Medivet practice.

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