How to tell if your pet is overheating – Top tips for keeping your pet safe

Dog dying in overheated car

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The summer has arrived in Britain and temperatures rose to hit 31.6C at Heathrow in London over the weekend. Forecasters predict the hot spell of weather to last for much of the week ahead. If the weather feels too hot for you, it is certainly too hot for your pet as well.

When temperatures surge, pet owners should be aware of heatstroke, which is also known as heat stress.

A number of cats, dogs and other pets may be affected by the condition and need veterinary care as a result.

Pet owners may not recognise the symptoms of heatstroke and therefore only seek help in the eleventh hour. has compiled a list of techniques to recognise signs of heat stress in your pet.

How to tell if your pet is struggling with heat stress

The normal body temperature for many pets differs, but for cats and dogs, it is between 37C to 39C.

Heatstroke will likely occur when their temperature rises above 40C.

Above this temperature, pets cannot use their body’s natural cooling system.

If your pet is becoming stressed by the heat, you may begin to notice symptoms such as:

  • Excessive panting and short of breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Changes in gum colour or tongue (dark pink or bright red)
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Increased pulse and heartbeat
  • Excessive thirst
  • Disorientation, stumbling or weakness
  • Vomiting.

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If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, you should take the following steps.

Begin by removing your pet from the hot environment immediately.

Apply or spray tepid/cool water to the animal’s fur and skin before you apply a fan to maximise heat loss.

You should then wet down the area around your pet which can help.

Do not use ice or ice-cold water as this can worsen the problem.

Take your pet to your nearest veterinary practice immediately because heatstroke is always an emergency and your pet needs to be checked over by a vet.

How to prevent heat stress in your pet

Make sure your pet has access to plenty of fresh and cool water at all times.

It is best if you place the water in plastic or terracotta bowls.

You should modify your exercise routine with your pet to avoid the harsh midday sun and avoid hard surfaces as they can damage their feet.

Never leave your pet in a car, even if the windows are open or if it appears to be an overcast day.

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