The Dangers of Heat Stress

As temperatures soar, a common issue that all caring pet owners should be aware of is heatstroke (also known as heat stress). Dogs are the pets most commonly at risk from heat exhaustion. The combination of high air temperatures and high humidity in the Queensland summer makes the dog’s natural cooling system less efficient. Dog’s do not sweat through their skin like humans, they release heat primarily by panting and sweating through their paw pads and nose. If a dog cannot effectively expel heat, the internal body temperature begins to rise.

What are the main predisposing factors of heatstroke?

  • A warm/hot humid environment with inadequate ventilation. This may be due to weather conditions or animals being left in an unventilated room or car.
  • Inadequate shade.
  • Inadequate drinking water.
  • Excessive exercise.

Heatstroke is a very serious, life-threatening condition! It can cause damage to your pet’s internal organs, sometimes to the point where they stop functioning and can be rapidly fatal. It requires urgent treatment!

Heatstroke, heat exhaustion or hyperthermia (all the same thing) happen quickly. Be aware of the symptoms and look out for the signs in your pet. These include:

  • Panting, which increases as heat stroke progresses.
  • Drooling and salivating.
  • Agitation and restlessness.
  • Very red or pale gums.
  • Bright red tongue.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Breathing distress
  • Vomiting and Diarrhoea (possibly with blood)
  • Signs of mental confusion, delirium.
  • Dizziness, staggering.
  • Lethargy, weakness.
  • Muscle tremors.
  • Collapsing and lying down.
  • Little to no urine production.

If you think your dog has heatstroke, move your dog out of the heat and place cool (not cold) wet towels all over the body to avoid shock. If possible, you can also place him/her in the breeze of a fan. Contact your local vet immediately.