Updated: Jul 9
As Spring warms up into Summer and the humidity and heat start to really set in, it's good to remember that, like every other member in your family, you need to take extra care with your pet. You can become dehydrated and dangerously hot, which can result in falling unconscious at best, vital organ damage, or at its very worst, death. The same is true for your pets!
Early stages of overheating can be treated at home, but you should check in with the pet to make sure that pet isn't suffering any internal consequences. Hopefully one can catch these symptoms quickly and prevent heatstroke from progressing. Once it's moved to heatstroke, one needs to take some immediate actions and then bring the pet to vet as quickly as possible. Symptoms of overheating include but not limited to; unusual panting, lethargy, unwillingness to move, dehydration and irregular heartbeat. Following are the ways in which you can help your pet suffering from heatstroke.
1. Remove the pet from the heat: If possible, move the pet indoors to an air-conditioned area. If that is not possible in case of large animal, move them to a shaded area outdoors, preferably with decent airflow. You will also need to restrict their activity at this point; do not allow your pet to run around until the danger of heat stroke has passed. If one can, carry the pet to a cool place, rather than ask them to walk.
2. Cool the pet with water: If possible, wet the pet with a stream of cool water. If the water is coming from a hose, be sure that the pressure is reduced. Do not submerge your pet underwater completely, as pet can lose temperature too quickly, which may lead to other complications. Be sure that the water is not overly cold. Very cold or ice water can actually slow the pet's cooling processes. Give priority to wetting the extremities such as paws, head and tail. Also place towels soaked with cool water between their back legs and in armpits.
3. Allow the pet to drink cool water: Keep the quantity of the water small at first. It is not advisable to give the pets, the human sports drinks. If the carnivorous or omnivorous animals seems uninterested in water, cool or room temperature (low-fat, unsalted) broth is an acceptable substitute. Do not force feed water to the pet if they cannot drink freely on their own. Instead, wet their mouth/beak, gums, and tongue with water squeezed from a face cloth or clean towel.
4. Do not cover or confine the pet: One can wipe the pet down with cool, damp towels, but do not drape the towels over them, as they can trap in the pet’s body heat. Similarly, do not place the pet in a closed crate or cage that will hold the heat from their body around their body. Try to place the pet on a cool tile floor, and have a fan blow air over them.
Contact an emergency veterinarian if your pet is not responding well to cooling treatments, it is imperative that you contact (and go to) an emergency vet. Internal (organ) damage is a possible side effect of a heat stroke. Undiagnosed complications can be fatal to your pet.