Tips to help your pet cope in the heat
February 14, 2020
When the weather heats up, it’s vital to consider how prepared your pets are to cope. Dogs and cats can’t regulate their body temperature through sweating (like we can), which means they’re more susceptible to heat stress than humans.
Do dogs and cats sweat?
Dogs and cats possess only a limited number of sweat glands, and these are mostly located around paw pads. This means that when a pet’s body temperature starts to rise, sweating alone is insufficient to help cool them down. Instead, dogs and cat utilise other strategies to help regulate their body temperature. Dogs pant to dissipate body heat via evaporation of moisture from their tongue and nasal cavity. For cats however, panting is generally cause for concern and may indicate an underlying medical problem. If you see your cat panting, it’s best to book a visit with your vet.
Cats help cool themselves down by grooming. The saliva that evaporates off their skin has a cooling effect. Both dogs and cats seek out cool areas to lie and reduce their activity to help keep cool.
It’s worth noting that breeds with short noses and flat faces such as the French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug as well as Persian and Himalayan cats are more susceptible to overheating and heat stroke. Overweight pets also find it harder to regulate their temperature, so special care needs to be given if this applies.
On warm and hot weather days, plan for your pet’s comfort accordingly. Ensure they have access to a cool spot with plenty of shade, and when the weather warrants it, bring your pet indoors. Keep your pet well hydrated by supplying cool, fresh drinking water with some ice cubes added. Consider placing multiple water bowls in a few different locations, which also helps if your pet tends to knock over their water bowl.
A cool surface to lay on, such as floor tiles, helps a pet transfer any excess body heat. Keep blinds shut and use fans and air conditioning to help keep the room cool.
You can make cool treats by freezing canned pet food in ice cube trays. This can help pets stay entertained as well as cool!
Plan your walkies
Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest part of the day. Instead, head out for a stroll during the cooler times of morning or evening. Carry some water and a collapsible water bowl for an easy drink on the go. This helps avoid heat stress and dehydration.
It’s also a good idea to take note of how hot the ground feels. If it’s hot to your touch, there’s the potential it may damage your pet’s paw pads.
Try to avoid car travel with your pets when the weather is hot and never leave your pet unattended in a car. The temperature within a closed car can rise rapidly and can be lethal.
If a pet is unable to keep their body temperature within a normal range, they are at risk of heatstroke which can be fatal.
What are the signs of heat stroke?
- Excessive and heavy panting
- Agitation and restlessness
- Increased body temperature (over 40 degrees Celsius)
- Gums that appear bright red, bluish or pale
- Breathing difficulties
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Muscle tremors and seizures
A pet with heat stroke needs immediate veterinary attention.
Follow these tips to help keep your pets cool and comfortable during the warmer months.