Spotting the signs of a dog temperature
Miracles do happen, so the UK may have a hot summer. I’ve no doubt I’ve just doomed all of us by writing those words, so sorry. However if it is warm we need to be on the look out through our sunglasses to ensure our pets are not overheating.
Hyperthermia is a condition where a pet is too hot, with an overly high body temperature. It is a serious emergency and can also be fatal. Normal temperatures of dogs range between 100.9 -102.5F and cats 100.4 – 101.7F. Anything (usually) one degree above this is cause for action and concern.
Typically our pets overheat because of one of the following reasons, or a combination:
- Environmental temperature being high
- High humidity
- No access to water
- No shade or cooler areas
Possible scenarios may include:
- Being outside in the high heat with no access to shaded or cooler areas
- Being locked in a car, conservatory or similar area on a warm day with inadequate ventilation
- No water available, or they have drunk the available water and are now without
- Over exercising on a warm day
- Respiratory (breathing) distress
Obese animals are more prone to hyperthermia, as the fat layers provide insulation. Brachycephalic pets (our flat faced friends such as the Pug or Persian cat) are also at higher risk.
Whatever the circumstances these hotties need cooling down, so try these techniques:
- Remove them from the heated area immediately.
- Spray or immerse them in cool water, tap water is fine. NOT COLD OR ICED water as this shrinks the blood vessels in the skin, preventing heat loss. Use showers, hose pipes or water pistols for example. Remember to be gentle whilst hosing them down; you’re not in an action film.
- Cover them in cool, wet towels.
- Set up a fan. This allows evaporation of heat and helps to provide some well-needed fresh air.
- Ring your vet and follow their advice, and expect to take your pet to the practice.
To avoid the whole panic and stress in the first place, here are some fab ideas and tips to help you and your pet:
- Keep pets out of heat and humidity and don’t over-exercise especially those more at risk. They really can’t withstand this (I’m totally with them on the exercise part).
- Dogs and cats don’t sweat, (except a little from their paw pads). Their main way of cooling themselves is by breathing and panting. Be extra alert to our flat-faced friends and those with breathing difficulties, as hyperthermia will occur far quicker. Avoid using muzzles.
- Walk them during the cooler periods of the day.
- Just offer gentle exercise, with no long runs.
- Keep pets at their ideal weight.
- If your pet is outside, provide lots of shade – umbrellas, gazebos, and children’s paddling pools with water in are excellent for them (and a great excuse for purchasing new garden furniture and play stuff).
- Provide cool, wet towels to sit on.
- Keep the nose, nostrils, and eyes clean and free from mucous and dirt.
- Use a body harness instead of a neck collar for walking.
- Use air conditioning in cars and fans inside the house.
- Always ensure fresh water is available, and leave extra bowls if needed. Ready-to-use drinking bottles and bowls are widely available to take with you on walks or long car journeys.
Have fun in the sun – and don’t forget their sunscreen either, particularly on the ear pinna’s and noses of white or pale-coloured pets.
Enjoy the summer!
By Annaliese Morgan