When the ambient temperature is very hot and a water dish is in direct sun light, it may become to hot for your pet to drink it. Dogs and cats vary in their sense of taste/temperature, but fresh cool water is, of course, the top choice for all animals.
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There are many ways to ensure your pet is protected from the heat on a hot day, even if you are away at work. Fresh water every day in a shady spot is a great start, but you could also ensure that they have shaded shelter at all times during the day. Make sure this shelter is well ventilated so that a breeze can cool your pet down. You could also cool your pet down with a hose pipe or spray bottle.
Remember that heat exhaustion can even take place on overcast days. Never leave your pet in a parked car, even if the windows are slightly open. This is especially important in hot weather, but be cautious in the cooler months too. If you are travelling with your pet in the car, provide adequate ventilation and regular water stops.
Try to stay away from strenuous exercise during hot days, but if you do decide to go for your daily walk be aware that, while paw pads are tough they are also sensitive and can burn while walking on hot pavement or tar. If possible, walk on grass or paved surfaces, and check your pet’s paw pads to make sure there isn’t any redness or pain. Always have a way to give your dog water at any moment during the walk.
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Below are the symptoms of heatstroke and some tips on how to help your pet in an emergency. Remember that heat stroke (also known as hyperthermia) is a life-threatening medical condition and your pet should be seen by your emergency vet once you have helped stabilise them.
Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs will be: Weakness, extreme thirst, heavy breathing, vomiting, disorientation, a bright red tongue with pale gums and/or thick saliva. Dogs are not as efficient at releasing heat as we are, as they cannot sweat – instead they pant to release heat. Built to conserve rather than release heat, dogs tend to heat up faster than we do. If you suspect that your dog is overheated, immediately take them to a shady spot or into a cool room indoors. Drape wet towels over your dog, but don’t leave the wet towels on too long as they will retain the heat and lose their ability to cool sufficiently. Never use ice water or ice – this will close the skin pores, shrink the skin’s surface vessels and can exacerbate the heat stroke. It can lead to shock or even cause hypothermia. When your dog comes around, try to give them a small amount of water to drink.
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Symptoms of heatstroke in cats will be: Rapid panting, salivating, weakness, anxiety, muscle tremors, vomiting, diarrhea and possible bleeding from the nose. Cats protect themselves against high temperatures by panting and licking their fur. Unfortunately this is not very effective on hot days. If the above symptoms are noticed, even in the slightest way, act fast by cooling your cat down with cool, damp towels. Replace these towels as often as possible. If you have a fan or air conditioner, turn this on, as evaporation will help cool the cat. Keep your cat in a cool place and offer plenty of cool, fresh water.
Hamsters, mice and guinea pigs
Symptoms of heatstroke are heavy breathing and the animal laying on its belly. There is always the possibility that they can perish quickly if you don’t take immediate action. Move the cage to a cool spot. Take your hamster out of the cage and run cool water, not cold, over its lower body until it is alert and it’s breathing has slowed. Dry it off gently and place it in a clean, dry cage, to rest away from any heat. To rehydrate your pet you can use an eyedropper to feed him water. Never leave your pet’s cage by a sunny window, in your car, or in an unventilated room.
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Please be aware that it is very important to stabilise your pet’s temperature. Even though they have heat stroke you need to be careful not to cool them down too much as this could result in hypothermia.
It is very important to bring your pet to your emergency animal hospital, even though your pet may seem to be recovering well, as there may be damage to the organs as a result of elevated body temperature caused by heat and humidity. Organs like the liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and brain are at risk of shutting down. Your TAH vet will be able to detect this and give your pet emergency care.