How to spot if your dog or cat has heatstroke and how to help them - petsitterbank

How to spot if your dog or cat has heatstroke and how to help them

Advice has been issued for dogs, cats, horses, farm animals and local wildlife (Picture: Getty Images)

Temperatures are set to head towards 40°C in parts of the UK over the next week so keeping our cats and dogs cool is crucial.

However, more than one in three people still don’t know the symptoms of heatstroke in their dog or what to do if they’re suffering.

Taking care of pets, as well as farm animals and local wildlife, is important as the heat worsens.

The RSPCA says it could be a ‘matter of life or death’ for pets.

Esme Wheeler, dog welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: ‘The hot weather has gone from glorious to extreme, and we can’t stress enough how vital it is that pet owners take the situation seriously.

‘That means limiting or skipping walks, only taking very essential car journeys, leaving water available at all times, and preparing damp, cold towels and mats, and frozen treats.

‘We’re still getting reports of dogs being left in cars, and seeing a lot of dogs being taken to busy outdoor events like festivals, shows and fetes, and to the beach.

‘Don’t be that person who is dragging their panting dog along the pavement or plodding around a garden show.

The signs of heatstroke every dog ​​owner NEEDS to know:

● Excessive panting

● Unusual breathing noise

● Lethargy or change in behavior

● Stumbling

● Blue or gray tinge to gums or tongue

Contact your vet immediately if you spot any of these signs in your dog

‘We can’t stress this enough – please leave them at home in the cool where they’ll be safe.’

If you do notice the above signs of heatstroke in your dog, there are variety of steps you can take.

Stop the animal from exercising if out and about and move them into a shaded or cool area, the RSPCA has advised.

Offer small amounts of liquid and, if there’s one to hand, place a soaked cool towel over their head.

The towel should be replaced once it heats up.

Once these steps are taken, dog owners should call a vet straight away for further advice.

There’s also a variety of tips on how to prevent heatstroke in the first place, which you can read below.


Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX/Shutterstock (13026560e) As Britain is well into a Mediterranean HeatWave we must remember to drink plenty of water, keep cool and keep our pets cool - and remember to water the gardens too, if the dog will allow you too.  Willow keeps trying to drink from the hose as Alex try to water the garden in Kent.  Summer heatwave, Kent, UK - 11 Jul 2022

Dogs should be kept in cool areas during the day when temperatures peak (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)
  • Never leave your dog in a vehicle. Dogs die in hot cars. Call 999 in an emergency if you see a dog in a hot car.
  • For the majority of the daytime hours, keep dogs indoors or wherever it is coolest.
  • Skipping walks during extreme weather shouldn’t cause your dog any problems. It’s much safer to skip a walk than put them at risk of heatstroke.
  • If you must exercise your dog, aim to keep to gentle, slow walks on the lead, and do this in the very early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler. Remember: If in doubt, don’t go out.
  • Take extra precautions for older dogs, those with thicker coats or flat faces, and those with existing health conditions.
  • Keep fresh, cool water available at all times.
  • Have a go at making some frozen dog treats to keep your dog cool.
  • Use cold treats from the fridge for added moisture or make an ice lolly for your dog from pet-friendly ingredients.
  • Freeze your dog’s water bowl or kong, or add ice cubes to your pet’s bowl.
  • Fill a paddling pool or spray a hose for your dog but try to avoid them over-exerting themselves and getting too warm.
  • Wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel, or use damp towels for your pet to lie on.

Cats, small furries, fish & pet chickens

How to spot if your dog or cat has heatstroke and how to help them

Cats can get sunburnt – pet sun cream is available to help protect exposed areas (Picture: Getty)
  • Pop a cool damp towel down in case your cat finds this comfortable to rest on.
  • Don’t let your pet get sunburnt – use pet-safe sun cream on ears and other exposed areas if necessary.
  • Check small animals, poultry and other pets twice a day for flystrike.
  • Keep guinea pigs cool and hydrated by making them a fresh vegetable treat.
  • Ensure rabbits and guinea pigs have constant access to shade and fresh drinking water at all times, and remember that as the sun moves during the day so too does the shade. Somewhere that was shaded in the morning could be in full sun by the afternoon.
  • Freeze a semi-full plastic bottle of water and wrap it in a towel so your pets can lie against it.
  • Those with pet chickens can encourage them to stay in shaded areas by hanging up a homemade vegetable garland for chickens.
  • Keep fish tanks out of direct sunlight.

Horses and farm animals

PORTLAND, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Horse riders cool off in the harbour, on July 10, 2022 in Portland, England.  Britain will experience a heatwave this week as temperatures in some parts are expected to reach 30c.  A level 2 heat health alert has been issued from the south and eastern parts of England.  (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Horse riders cool off in the harbor in Portland, England earlier this week (Picture: Getty Images)
  • Check water troughs are working properly and clean out any algae or debris.
  • For horses stabled during the day out of the heat, try making them our horse and pony boredom buster treat.
  • A non-toxic fly repellent spray and a fly mask can help keep horses protected from bugs.
  • Plan exercising and traveling horses at either end of the day when temperatures are lower.
  • Use pet-safe sunscreen on horses’ muzzles if necessary.
  • Know the signs of dehydration in horses so you can contact a vet if needed.
  • Make sure pet pigs have plenty of wet mud to wallow in as well as shade.


little young hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) in autumn forest looking for food in the undergrowth, selected focus, narrow depth of field

Local wildlife, such as little hedgehogs, also should be protected (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
  • Leave a bowl of fresh drinking water in your garden for birds and other wildlife.
  • Top up water levels of ponds.
  • Keep an eye out for wildlife when using lawnmowers or strimmers.

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