With the weather warming up and summer just around the corner pet owners like to get active outdoors with their furry companions. But…. we must remember with our Queensland hot and humid weather conditions the dangers of heat stroke to our pets. Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia were environmental conditions cause an increase in body temperature above that of the body’s ability to dissipate the heat. This is a life threating condition that can lead to multi-organ failure with temperatures exceeding 41oC.
Although dogs have a type of sweat gland in their paws and noses, the majority of the heat they can expel from the body is through panting. This requires cool air to move through the airway passages for effective heat loss. If they can’t access cool air such as being left in hot vehicles without ventilation or exercised in hot/humid weather they are at risk of overheating. Other factors that can further predisposed our pets to heat stroke are age (very young or elderly), obesity or conditions that affect their airways.
Early signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, restlessness and distress, large amount of drooling from nose and mouth, unsteady gaits and gum colour changes to bright red or blue/purple.
Heat stoke is very preventable by being summer smart.
Here are few tips:
· Don’t leave pets unattended or confined in a car even with windows ajar – Hot cars melt dogs! With an outside temperature of 24oC day a car can heat up to 37oC in only 10 minutes.
· Exercising in the cooler times of the day NOT in the middle of the day. Early morning and late afternoon/evening when temperature are below 25 oC is ideal.
· Ensuring your pet has access to plenty of cool water to keep hydrated - You should provide multiple water bowls of cool water. When exercising having a collapsible water bowl with you and/or taking a route with known water access.
· Providing items to help keep your pet cool – inflatable/portable kiddie’s pools (obviously supervision can be required). Providing ice blocks in water and/or with appropriate coverings to lie on.
· Providing adequate shade for your pet when at home and/or outdoors
· Avoid hot concrete, pavement and tar mac. We all know what it’s like to walk across the hot road in the middle of summer without shoes on. Although our pets have pads to protect their paws they can still burn and blister there pads when walking on very hot surfaces.