Heatstroke in Pets
As the temperatures get to boiling point, Pet Insurance Australia offers a timely reminder to pet owners about the importance of keeping their dogs cool during the summer months. PLUS: we list the breeds that are most likely to suffer from heatstroke.
“It’s certainly getting hot around the country,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “Now is the time pet owners need to be super vigilant in ensuring their pets are kept cool and safe.”
Pet Insurance Australia typically sees an alarming 10 to 20-fold increase in heatstroke claims over summer, compared to the winter months.
Even across Summer 2020 the numbers remained high – despite Covid lockdowns when many pet owners were at home longer and better able to monitor their pets during the heat of the day.
“Even if working from home, pet owners need to remain vigilant in offering their pets ample shade, cool spots, and plenty of water,” says Crighton.
Certain breeds are also more at risk. The top 10 dog breeds in 2021 suffering from heatstroke included:
- British Bulldog
- American Bulldog
- Australian Bulldog
- French Bulldog
- Swiss Shepherd
- Australian Heeler Cross
- English Springer Spaniel
- Bernese Mountain Dog
Many of these breeds fall into the Brachycephalic dog breed category. Brachycephalic breeds are dogs that have a shortened skull, short nose, and a flat face. Because of this look, many of these dogs sadly suffer from breathing and other related problems and are far more suspectable to heatstroke.
“Other breeds are typical winter breeds with thick heavy coats; however, all pets can suffer from heatstroke,” Crighton says. “Older pets also seem to be more susceptible.”
Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs
Heatstroke is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention. Here’s what you can look for to get a sense of whether or not your dog needs immediate veterinary attention.
Head tilt: This is often an indication of heat exhaustion, but it has also been seen in dogs who have gone through heat stroke. The head tilt is the result of excess fluid buildup in the head and neck and does not necessarily indicate that the dog is actually experiencing heat stroke. You should note the severity and location of any head tilt as much as possible so that if she does need to be taken to a vet, you’ll know where to start looking for problems.
Panting: This is a very obvious sign that your dog has gone through heatstroke. With heatstroke, the dog will often stop panting once he gives up and tries to rest.
Dilated pupils: This is also an indication of heat exhaustion, but sometimes it can be a result of heat stroke. In dogs who go through this phase, their pupils become enlarged as they are unable to get enough oxygen into the blood.
Hypothermia: The body temperature of a dog can rapidly rise when she experiences shock, so the air around her may feel too warm even though it isn’t necessarily hot out. This is an indication that the dog is suffering from heatstroke as her body temperature rises, and it may be a sign that your dog has begun to slip into shock.
Rapid or irregular pulse: This is also an indication of shock due to the rapid rise of body temperature. If your dog’s heart rate seems irregular or too fast, this could be a result of heatstroke.
Blood in vomit: It’s not uncommon for dogs who are going through a heatstroke situation to vomit up blood as their bodies try to regulate themselves and cool down. Intestinal bleeding can also be seen in these dogs.
Keeping Your Dogs Cool!
- Ensure water bowls are not stainless steel and keep them out of direct sunlight. Add a few extra drinking areas, cats and dogs also love flowing water from pet fountains.
- Keep dog beds and cat perches out of the sun.
- Create cool zones, hose down under trees, and create ample shaded areas.
- Do not leave your pet in the car, even for a few minutes.
- Only exercise your pet during the cooler parts of the day.
- If your pet is exhibiting any symptoms of heatstroke seek veterinary treatment quickly.
- Allow your pet inside to lay on the bathroom and kitchen floors. Plus; they will also benefit from a fan or the air-conditioning.
- If it’s too hot for a run at the dog park, consider teaching your pet a new trick. Flexing their minds can be just as beneficial as a big run.
- Consider clipping thick-coated breeds.
“Signs of heat stress include excessive panting and salivation, vomiting, and bloody diarrhoea,” Crighton says. “Pets may become restless, anxious, and unsteady, and their gums may become bright red or bluish due to lack of oxygen. Seizures and collapse can also occur.”