Heatstroke & Your Pet

Pet Care Dogs Pet Health Pets Posted Dec 1, 2020
Heatstroke can be deadly for our pets, and as the mercury rises this summer it’s important to know the warning signs.

Heatstroke happens when the body is well above the normal temperature range, which can result in thermal injury to tissues, multiple organ failure and rapid deterioration or even death. All animals are susceptible to heatstroke, here are some tips on the symptoms to look out for, and how to help your pet stay cool.

dog lying on grass with tongue out

Signs of heatstroke

Your pet could present with some or all of these symptoms:

  • Relentless panting (increases as heatstroke progresses)
  • Drooling/salivating
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Very red or pale gums
  • Bright red tongue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Breathing distress
  • Vomiting, diarrhea (possibly with blood)
  • Signs of mental confusion, delirium
  • Dizziness, staggering
  • Lethargy, weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Collapsing and lying down
  • Little to no urine production
  • Coma

How susceptible is your pet to heatstroke - take the quiz!

What to do if your pet has heatstroke
  1. Initiate emergency first aid to help bring your pet’s core body temperature down. Spray tepid water on their fur/skin, and fan them to help maximise the cooling effect. Don’t use ice-cold water as this may make it worse. You can also wet down the area around your pet to help cool them.
  2. Take your pet to the nearest vet immediately. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency and pets need to be checked over by a vet, even if they appear to be recovering. Organ failure and damage can appear later. Vets are trained to assess the severity of the heatstroke and then provide emergency care for your pet, which may include an intravenous drip, cooling treatments, medication and organ failure assessment.

Download our Heatstroke Fact Sheet here

How to avoid heatstroke in hot weather
dog lying in blue clam shell full of water
  • Provide your pets with a cool, shaded and well-ventilated space.
  • Make sure they have plenty of cool fresh water, and extra water sources in case of spillage.
  • Bring your pets indoors on hot or humid days if it is cooler inside, provided there is good ventilation.
  • Do not exercise your pets during the day. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to take dogs for a walk, and beat the heat. Also remember not to take them for a walk on hot surfaces (asphalt, sand, concrete).
  • Do not leave your dog in the car. Even with the windows down your dog can overheat and die because they cannot thermoregulate adequately.
  • Small pocket pets and birds are highly susceptible to heatstroke. They are usually kept in cages and unable to move to cooler places, so you need to ensure that their enclosure is in a shaded and well-ventilated area. They also need fresh drinking water at all times, and should be brought inside on very hot days where possible.

For more cool tips for all types of pets this Summer, check out our article here.

Taryn Paris

Taryn Paris
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