Keeping Their Cool!

It sure has been a long hot summer and guess what – it’s not over yet!

When you’re shedding those layers and sweating it out, spare a thought for your pet. Humans are very good at thermoregulating during hot days as we cool ourselves via perspiration from our skin. Animals have limited numbers of sweat glands and although they are able to sweat via their foot pads, this is about the only spot where they are able to do so. In fact, your poor pet rabbit or pig has no sweat glands at all! Your pet actually cools themselves by panting. This allows them to circulate the necessary air through their bodies to cool down and causes them to be very susceptible to heat stroke.

Brachycephalic breeds (dogs with short muzzles) like the Bulldog varieties, Pugs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, to name a few, are extra sensitive to high temperatures as restricted airways mean less air being taken in with each breath and in turn, less heat loss through their respiratory tract. Black and overweight pets, elderly patients and pets with heart conditions are also more likely to overheat.

For keeping pets cool this summer, consider the following tips:

  • Provide plenty of shade and fresh water.
  • Never leave your pet in the car, even if you don’t think it’s too hot and the windows are down.
  • For high risk pets named earlier in this article, good air conditioning through the hottest parts of the day is advisable.
  • A small ice block during a hot day can make for a refreshing treat.
  • If your dog is a brachycephalic breed and makes snorting and snoring noises, consider corrective surgery to assist in opening up their main airway to help keep them cool.
  • Consider a self-cooling gel mat for your pet
Dalmatian Drinking
  • If your pet is panting excessively, wobbly on their legs, has a change in tongue colour and heat stress is suspected, place cool wet towels on and around them, provide cool (not icy) drinking water and seek immediate veterinary advice.

Unfortunately heat stress is very common in pets and often recognised far too late.

Written by

Dr Renee Pigdon BVSc MACVS