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How Hot Weather Affects Pets and What to Do

Summer is just around the corner and with it comes rising temperatures. As humans, many of us enjoy warmer weather and will be happy to bask in the sunshine, but the Summer heat can potentially be dangerous for our pets. Here’s what you need to know about how hot weather affects pets and what to do to keep them safe.


How does hot weather affect pets?

Animals deal with heat differently than humans do. The main reason for this is that they simply can’t regulate their body temperature in the same way as us. Instead of sweating through their skin to release it and letting it evaporate to cool their body as we do, cats and dogs only sweat through their paws and noses, making it that much harder to regulate their body temperature. To help the process, dogs pant, which enables water to evaporate from their body, while cats groom their fur, with the saliva evaporating from their fur to cool them down. And birds and rabbits don’t sweat at all!

Any animal that gets too hot is at risk of developing heatstroke, a serious and even potentially life-threatening condition. Heatstroke occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises above the normal range of 100 to 102.5 degrees.

Pets that are particularly at risk of overheating

Some animals are at greater risk of developing heatstroke than others. Some of them that are more likely to overheat include:

  • Flat-faced breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Persian cats, and Lionhead rabbits

  • Pets with very thick fur/double-coats (Huskies, Malamutes, Great Pyrenees, etc)

  • Old or very young animals

  • Overweight pets

  • Pets with lung problems or breathing difficulties


What are the symptoms of heatstroke?

The signs of heatstroke can vary depending on the size and breed of your pet. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to know what to look out for.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats

  • Panting heavily and rapidly

  • Drooling more than usual

  • Foaming at the mouth

  • Appearing distressed, upset, or otherwise behaving abnormally

  • Tremors/seizures

  • Bright red gums

  • Collapsing

Signs of heatstroke in bunnies, guinea pigs, and small pets

  • Drooling

  • Taking short, quick breaths

  • Seeming sleepy/lethargic

  • Falling unconscious 

Heatstroke is always a medical emergency so if you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, get help from your veterinarian at Animal Hospital of Padre Island right away.


What to do if you think your pet has heatstroke

Although your pet will probably need to see a veterinarian as a matter of urgency, administering immediate first aid could help and your veterinarian may advise you over the phone to try and cool your pet down at home first before you bring them in. Some of the techniques that they may recommend could include:

  • Place them in a room with a fan or air-conditioner.

  • Let them drink small amounts of cool, fresh water.

  • Pour small amounts of cool (not ice cold!) water on them. This is usually only recommended for larger pets since cold water could cause shock.


Preventing your pet from getting heatstroke

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce the risk of your pet getting heatstroke this summer season. Here are our top tips for keeping heatstroke at bay.

  • Keep your pet out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.

  • Ensure that they have continual access to fresh water and keep an eye on their water bowls during the day. Just like us, our animals drink more when the weather is hot.

  • Walk dogs in the mornings and evenings when the sun and temperatures are at their lowest.

  • If you can, move any small pets like bunnies and guinea pigs inside the home or a garage, and well out of the direct heat of the sun.

  • Trim, don’t shave, their coats. One of the biggest misconceptions is that a longer coat will make a pet hotter, but it can help to keep them cool. However, very long hair can be trimmed and will make it easier for your pet to regulate their body temperature.

  • Use fans and air-conditioners wherever you can.


For more tips and advice on how hot weather affects pets and what you can do to help them to cope, please contact our knowledgeable veterinary team at Animal Hospital of Padre Island in Corpus Christi, Texas today at 361-949-8200.

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