Heatstroke Warning – Numbers Skyrocket
The number of pets suffering from heatstroke in the summer has dramatically increased over the past year. With the thermostat only set to increase in 2023, Pet Insurance Australia has a timely reminder of the dangers of pets overheating.
“It’s starting to get warm, and with the predictions of a sweltering summer, pet owners need to be extra vigilant when it comes to heat and how it affects their pets,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia warns.
In 2022, Pet Insurance Australia witnessed a massive increase in heatstroke claims, with a 46% increase from 2021 and 2022, with the most prevalent months for increase being between November and March. With the weather expected to be much hotter this summer, many pets around Australia are at risk of suffering from this life-threatening condition.
“Heatstroke can come on quickly and end terribly for pets,” Crighton says. “Keeping your pet cool is important for all breeds, regardless of their size or coat thickness.”
Heatstroke can also be a costly treatment depending on the severity of the condition and can range from the median claim amount of $600 to the eye-watering $27,181.
“Dogs cannot regulate their body temperatures like humans and can overheat very quickly, particularly during summer,” Crighton says. “Certain breeds, such as the Brachycephalic breed group or the squishy face dogs, can suffer terribly during hot weather. If you own a breed in this category, such as the French Bulldog, Boxer or Boston Terrier, you must take extra precautions during the hot weather.”
Pet Insurance Australia also urges all pet owners never to leave their pets in cars.
“Your car can act like an oven in a matter of minutes regardless of if you have the windows cracked or if you are parked in the shade,” Crighton says. “If you cannot take your pet with you, it’s best you leave them at home with good shelter and plenty of water.”
Cool Ideas to Keep Pets Comfortable
PIA has some great ideas to keep your pets cool this summer….
- Freeze ice cream containers full of water and a few treats for summer play.
- Fill up a children’s clam-shell pool for water fun.
- Allow your pet access to cold concrete or tiles.
- Clip/trim long-haired breeds.
- Hose under trees to keep the soil cool.
- Only exercise during early morning and late afternoon.
- Check pavements with the back of your hand – if it’s too hot for your hand it is too hot for precious paws.
“Also, check where your water bowls are situated and keep them out of the sun. Steel bowls will heat up extremely quickly in direct sunlight,” Crighton warns. “It’s also a good idea to monitor exactly how much shade your pet has during the day, as this can change drastically throughout the seasons.”
Symptoms of Heatstroke In Dogs
Heatstroke is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition in dogs. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, you must seek veterinary treatment and advice quickly. Symptoms can include;
- Excessive Panting: In dogs, rapid and extreme panting is often the first sign of heatstroke.
- Drooling: Excessive drooling may accompany panting as the dog’s body tries to cool down.
- Increased Heart Rate: The heart rate may become elevated as the body attempts to circulate blood and cool down.
- Warm or Hot to the Touch: The dog’s body may feel excessively warm or hot when touched.
- Lethargy & Weakness: Heatstroke can cause the dog to become weak, lethargic, and unresponsive.
- Vomiting & Diarrhea: Gastrointestinal symptoms may occur, including vomiting and diarrhea. This may also contain blood.
- Collapse: In severe cases, the dog may collapse, become unconscious, or have seizures.
- Loss of Coordination: The dog may exhibit unsteady movements, stumbling, or incoordination.
- Dizziness: Heatstroke can lead to disorientation and confusion.
“Prevention is always better when it comes to heatstroke. Simple things such as changing your exercise regime and ensuring your pet has ample shade and water and is never left alone in the car can ensure they do not become a victim of heatstroke,” Crighton says.
Dog Breeds Most Affected By Heatstroke*
- Australian Shepherd
- French Bulldog
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Fox Terrier
*PIA Data 2023
Photo by Justin Aikin
Nadia Crighton is a renowned and accomplished professional in the fields of Journalism, Public Relations, and Writing, with an extensive career spanning over 25 years, 20 of which have been dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of pets.