AS the mercury soars towards a predicted 40 degrees across the Central West, people are reminded that pets can suffer from heat related illness just as easily as a person.
A severe heatwave is stretched across the region this week and many people and pets are suffering from the heat.
An alert by the RSPCA NSW said cats and dogs cannot respond to heat in the same way as humans do.
“We have sweat glands all over our bodies that help us regulate our temperature, but dogs and cats only have a few in their feet and around their noses,” the alert states.
“Many animals rely on panting and external cooling to lose heat.
“Their long thick hair coats can also predispose them to heatstroke.”
As pets are not able to cool themselves down as easily, they should be left in a cool, well-ventilated and shaded environment with access to clean fresh drinking water.
What is heatstroke?
Is a state of hyperthermia (elevated core body temperature above the normal range) resulting in heat injury to tissues.
Heatstroke occurs when heat generation exceeds the body’s ability to lose heat.
Heatstroke is a very serious, life-threatening condition.
It can cause damage to a pet’s internal organs, sometimes to the point where they stop functioning and can be rapidly fatal. It requires urgent treatment.
All animals are susceptible to heatstroke so you need to make sure that you take active steps to prevent it.
How should you treat a pet with heatstroke?
Instigate emergency first aid to help normalise your pet’s body temperature.
Apply or spray tepid/cool water onto their fur/skin, followed by fanning to maximise heat loss.
Don’t use ice-cold water or ice as this may exacerbate the problem. Wetting down the area around your pet can also help.
Take your pet to the nearest vet immediately.
Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency, so even if your pet looks like they may be recovering or you just suspect they might have suffered heatstroke they should still always be checked by a vet.
Heatstroke can cause organ damage which might not appear straight away. Given the seriousness of this condition, it is better to be safe than sorry and have your pet checked out.
What are the signs of heatstroke?
Signs may vary between individuals, but commonly include:
- Relentless panting (increases as heatstroke progresses)
- Drooling, salivating
- Agitation, restlessness
- Very red or pale gums
- Bright red tongue
- Increased heart rate
- Breathing distress
- Vomiting, Diarrhoea (possibly with blood)
- Signs of mental confusion, delirium
- Dizziness, staggering
- Lethargy, weakness
- Muscle tremors
- Collapsing and lying down
- Little to no urine production