The recent heat wave last week took many of us by surprise, including our pets! It looks like we are in  for a long and very hot summer ahead of us. We would like to take a moment to discuss the implications the hot weather can have on your pets.

All pets can suffer from the heat, not only dogs and cats but also  birds, rabbits, guniea pigs, rodents, reptiles (which is why we are seeing so many snakes at the moment!), and even fish!

Heat Stroke is a condition we see as a result of pets being unable to cope with high temperatures. Heat stroke occurs when a pet’s body temperature rises too high. Pets are unable to sweat like we do. Dogs for example, will only perspire around their nose and paws and will rely mostly on panting to expel excess heat.  There is a limit to how much excess heat they can expel this way and without help overheating can cause them considerable harm.

Heat stroke is an emergency. Potentially life threatening complications can develop as a result of your pet’s temperature rising to high. Complications can include; Brain swelling, organ failure, convulsions, shock and even death.

Signs of heatstroke include ; High body temperature, frequent panting, excessive drooling, distress, noisy breathing, bright red gums, vomiting, diarrhea, irregular and rapid heart beat, weakness, collapse, seizures and even coma.

What can you do to ensure your pet is protected this summer?  A good rule to guide you is this;  If its too hot for you, then its too hot for your pet! 1.NEVER leave your pet unattended  in your car! (Temperatures in cars can reach over 45 degrees in less than 10min) 2. Keep pets inside and in air conditioning whenever possible.  3.If you have outside only pets, ensure they have adequate shade ALL day and have plenty of water. 4.Remember to ensure water is not easily tipped over and it’s not in the sun. 5.If you exercise your pet, ensure you do so at a time of the day it is coolest, and remember to check roads and paths to ensure they are not too hot on their paws. 6.Perhaps instead of a walk, take them for a swim! 7. You can also provide your pet with frozen ice blocks and frozen water bottles to lick and lay with during the day.8. Frozen water in drink bottles is particularly good for pocket pets to lie against when it’s hot. You can see some examples of these and other ideas on our Facebook page –

If you are concerned about your pet in the heat, or you suspect they may have developed heat stroke, the first thing you must do is administer prompt first aid. Cool your pet immediately. Immerse them in a cold bath, drape them in a cold wet towel or run a cold hose over their body. It’s important to maintain airflow over your pet if they are wet. Gently move them to a cool place, in air conditioning or place them in front of a fan. Contact your nearest veterinary hospital immediately.  Prompt first aid and veterinary treatment is essential in heat stroke cases and can make the difference between life and death.

Remember, the Western Sydney Veterinary Emergency Service, operating out of Nepean Animal Hospital, is open, with staff onsite, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Keep our number handy this summer– 1300 WELLPET or (02) 47333456

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