Saturday, 20 June 2020

Feeling the heat!

While people regulate their body temperatures by sweating, a dog goes about it in a different way! Dogs do not sweat in the same way that people do, although they do produce very small amounts of sweat from the pads of their paws (as do cats). The main way in which dogs regulate their body temperature is by panting, which draws cooling air into the body to drop the core temperature, and also by drinking water, which again hydrates and cools the body. 


What is heat stroke?


Heat Stroke (hyperthermia) is a condition that occurs at a point where an animal can no longer regulate their body temperature or cool themselves down. Their temperature becomes dangerously raised. It generally occurs in the summer months when the outside temperatures are high. Dogs that are overweight or ones that have a thick coat are particularly vulnerable as are short nosed breeds such as a Pug, Boxer, Pekingese and Bulldog.



Situations that can quickly lead to heat stroke;
  • Too much exercise or vigorous play during the hotter parts of the day.
  • Not drinking enough water or lack of access to drinking water. 
  • Being out in direct sunlight and unable to find shade. 
  • Being enclosed in a car, shed or other overheated enclosure where the temperature is hot.

Preventing heat stroke in pets





It is vital to monitor your pet closely when it is hot to see how they are coping with the heat. Some of the precautions to take during the summer include:




  • Not walking your dog or encouraging vigorous play during the hottest part of the day;  walk in the early morning and the evening when the weather is cooler.
  • Ensuring that your pet has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Take water out on dog walks with you so that you can give them a drink.
  •  NEVER leaving your pet shut in a car, shed, conservatory, caravan or other small space for any amount of time, even for just a few minutes. Your pet can become dangerously overheated. 
  • Making sure that your pet can get out of direct sunlight if needed, ensuring that they have access to cooler, shaded areas - some dogs and cats insist on lying in the sun, discourage this!
  • Provide a cool room in which they can retreat into - if necessary close the curtains to keep the sun off the room and ensure that there is plenty of ventilation (good air-flow) and fresh water readily available.
  • Groom your pet regularly. A healthy, groomed coat helps your pet to regulate their body temperature and cope with the heat in summer.
  • Outdoor pets must have access to shade and drinking water at all times.
  •  Remember that some dogs, particularly those with white fur or pink skin may be prone to sunburn -  take this into account when taking them out in the sun. Cats with white ears are also prone to getting sunburn on the ear tips.  You can buy pet safe sun cream - always read the label.


Identifying heatstroke in dogs;


Even if you take all possible precautions and do what you can to help your dog keep cool, it is important to be able to identify the symptoms of heatstroke in the early stages in order to take prompt action. Heatstroke can quickly progress to become a life-threatening emergency.

During the early stages of heatstroke your dog may appear restless, have excessive thirst, be breathing heavily and faster and look generally unhappy. They can appear listless and lethargic too. They will begin to pant excessively and for a prolonged period of time, or pant recurrently without getting any relief. As heatstroke progresses they may drool more than usual from the mouth. Their gums or tongue may appear a dark red or purple colour.  A high body temperature and elevated heart rate also accompany heatstroke in dogs. Heatstroke often progresses very quickly, and can soon advance to confusion and disorientation, collapse and fitting. The dog may also vomit or lose control of their bowels and bladder.

    Heatstroke is a veterinary emergency, and not a condition that can be left to resolve itself.

     What to do for dogs with heat stroke;
  •      Immediately move your dog to the shade or indoors to a cool area.
  •     Apply cool or tepid water (not ice cold as this can be counterproductive), either directly by slowly pouring small amounts of water on them or by using wet towels/ sponge to wet the body. Pay particular attention to the stomach, inner thighs, armpits, head, neck and footpads. (Don't cover the dog with a wet towel as this can cause them to warm up).
  •     If a hose pipe is available, use a fine, gentle spray to wet your dog. (Make sure that you run water through the hosepipe first before applying it to your pet - any water residue in a hosepipe that has been sitting in the sun can be scalding hot so be sure to check the water temperature before using it). 
  • If you have brought your dog indoors, if able to, stand them in the bath so that their feet are stood in tepid water and continue to slowly wet their body. Do not submerge them in water as this can shock them. 
  •     Offer your dog water to drink but don't let them drink too much at once. Small sips are ideal. However, don't force them to drink.
  •      If you have a fan, direct it onto your dog.
  •      CALL YOUR VET for further advice and to arrange for your pet to be checked, (even if they appear to be recovering). 

     Cats and the heat


   
  Cats will generally cope better with hot temperatures. They usually seek out somewhere cool to rest. Cat paw pads have sweat glands and this is how they cool down. Cats also lick the fur over their bodies to distribute saliva that will evaporate to cool them, much like sweat would do. A heat stressed cat will pant and this should not be ignored.



A cat can succumb to heatstroke and show similar symptoms to a dog - restlessness, agitation, drooling, panting, weakness. Again it is vital that you move them to a shady, cool area and apply cool water using a towel/sponge to the groin, paws and neck. If available, use a fan to help cool them down. Offer small amounts of water to drink. CALL YOUR VET.

   Rabbits and Guinea pigs


Don't forget your small furries! Rabbits and Guinea pigs are unable to sweat, they must have plenty of shade and good airflow. 

    
Position enclosures/hutches in a cool place out of direct sunlight such as under a tree and create more shade by adding a tarpaulin or a towel. Provide more shady spots within the enclosure using a cardboard box with a couple of openings cut into it for added ventilation. Provide fresh water at all times in both a drinking bottle and ceramic dish.


Signs that a rabbit or Guinea pig is hot include lethargy, breathing heavily, puffing, a wet nose, drooling, weakness, reluctance to move.


Immediately move them to a cool area and apply cool water to their ears, groin and feet using a sponge/towel. Offer them water to drink. Do not submerge them in water as it can shock them. CALL YOUR VET!








Click the link for some tips on summer outdoor bunny care
      (courtesy of www.rabbit welfare.co.uk)


Ensure that rodent cages and bird cages are kept out of direct sunlight and are not left in a conservatory. Make sure that your pet has access to fresh water at all times. 

Wildlife - Don't forget to leave a dish of water out for wildlife visiting your garden.









Disclaimer: The contents of the Arden House Animal Hospital website are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Veterinary Surgeon with any questions you may have regarding your animal’s medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
















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