During the hot summer months, dogs and cats can become increasingly at risk of heatstroke. While cats like to sunbathe, they tend to know when they have had enough and will move to a more shaded spot. Dogs, on the other hand, are not always quite so smart and may need to be moved from the sun to prevent overheating.
Unlike humans, dogs do not sweat. Their primary cooling method is panting, however, when the temperature outside gets close to matching the dog’s body temperature, panting becomes ineffective and the dog can become at risk of heatstroke.
Although any animal can overheat, pets that are obese or brachycephalic (flat-nosed breeds, such as Pugs or Persian cats) are more susceptible to heatstroke as it becomes increasingly difficult for them to use their airway to pant effectively.
Here are some signs to look out for that your pet might be suffering from heatstroke:
- Faster, heavier breathing or panting
- Thirstier than normal
- Whining or showing signs of agitation
- Faster heartbeat
- Gums turn a darker colour than normal
- Weakness, lethargy or collapse
If you suspect your pet is suffering from a heat-related condition, take them to a cool place and give them a drink of water while seeking immediate veterinary advice.
How can I prevent my pet from overheating?
To prevent your pet from overheating, ensure they always have access to fresh water and make sure there is enough ventilation within the room. Sometimes an open window is not enough, particularly if your pet is less mobile – instead, consider using an electric fan and take their water bowl to them regularly.
Avoid exercising your dog in the heat during the day – mornings and evenings are usually cooler, and remember the 5-second rule: if it hurts your hand to touch the pavement for 5 seconds, it will hurt your dog's paws to walk on it, too!
Parasites love the warmer weather too, so make sure your pets flea and tick treatments are up to date.
Finally, never let your pet rest for too long in direct sunlight – this includes inside conservatories, in front of windows, and out in the garden, and NEVER leave your pet inside a car.
TrustedHousesitters is here to keep pets safe and happy, which is why all members have unlimited access to a free 24/7 Vet Advice Line while on a sit. Simply call the number on your dashboard for expert advice from a team of veterinary nurses.