How to Treat Heatstroke in Your Pets

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The unpleasant side effect of warmer weather is heatstroke. The term heatstroke refers to what happens when your body temperature becomes too high. This happens during periods of prolonged exposure or overexertion in high temperatures. While it is more common in the summer months, this could happen to our pets at any time. Therefore, it’s always timely to know these tips on how to treat heatstroke in your pets.

Main Causes of Heatstroke

Here are some primary causes of heatstroke in pets:

  • Direct exposure to the sun without an adequate source of shade. 
  • Lack of drinking water available to the animal. 
  • A warm/hot environment with no ventilation.
  • Too much exercise.

Pets don’t sweat like humans do, so they lack the ability to regulate their body temperature. 

Signs of Heatstroke

Heatstroke can happen to your pet regardless of the season. Be on the lookout for the signs listed below:

  • Panting. While dogs already pant in some situations, cats do not. If your cat is panting, there is an issue!
  • Excessive drooling and salivating
  • Breathing distress
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Pale gums or extremely red gums
  • Increased and rapid heart rate
  • Extremely red tongue
  • Restlessness and agitation 

If you notice any of these symptoms on your pet, assess whether to try treatment at home or proceed to an emergency vet.

Treat Heatstroke in Your Pets at Home

There are some cases of heatstroke that require the services of a veterinarian. Even if you h andle the immediate crisis with your pet, it can still be prudent to have a vet give your pet a brief exam. But to deal with the urgent issues at h and, there are some actions you must take right away.

1. Move to a cooler area

First and foremost, move your pet away from the source of heat. You can’t bring their body temperature down otherwise. Get your pet to a cooler area. To help bring down their body temp, put a cool or damp towel under their body. 

2. Give some fresh water

If your pet appears to be alert, give them some water. Fresh water will help hydrate their body and bring their temperature back down. Don’t give your pet too much, however. Do small amounts, but offer these small amounts in frequent intervals. Drinking too much water too fast will create more problems for your animal.

Be sure to have sufficient fresh water available to treat heatstroke in your pets.
Be sure to have sufficient fresh water available to treat heatstroke in your pets.

3. Take the temperature

If you have a rectal thermometer and know how to take your pet’s temperature, go ahead and do so. If it’s above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, start spraying your pet with water (not cold water) to bring down their body temperature. You can stop spraying your pet down once their body is under 104 degrees. Try to time how long that takes since that is essential information for your vet. Once their body temp has decreased, don’t forget to dry your pet off. Otherwise, they end up deal with excessive cooling, and that causes additional issues. 

If your pet’s body temp didn’t go above 104, you are most likely safe to monitor your pet at home. Always double-check with your vet, but you may be able to pass on making an immediate trip to see your vet or an emergency vet. If your pet did see body temps above 104, you must call your vet to set up an immediate visit. 

What Not To Do if Your Pet is Having a Heatstroke

If we realize something is wrong with our furry family member, we can panic and try to overcompensate. We could try to cool our pet with ice-cold water by dousing them with it or dumping it in their mouth. That would be a mistake! Use gradual steps as described above to try and help lower the effects of the heatstroke. 

If your pet is not alert, lethargic, or unconscious, wrap them in a cool towel and get to the vet immediately. Time is critical in a case like this.

If Your Pet has a Heatstroke, Don’t Panic

While heatstroke is more common in the summer, it could happen anytime our pet overexerts themselves or is exposed to direct sunlight for too long. If your furry friend shows signs of heatstroke, use a cool towel to bring their temp down and call your vet for additional treatment instructions. Be careful not to use cold water and try not to do too much too fast to treat heatstroke in your pets. If your pet is unconscious, go to the vet immediately! 

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