With temperatures rising in Singapore this month, our pets are prone to heat stroke, just like we are.Heat stroke is a very serious and potentially life-threatening condition. Spare yourself the next five minutes to read this and protect your pet from heat stroke!

Dogs are the most common pets suffering from heat stroke, usually after they have been out for a walk in the hot sun. Pets can also be prone to heat stroke if kept in a vehicle. Excessive body temperature can cause damage to almost all organs in the body, especially the brain, liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract, and can very quickly lead to death.

Signs of heat stroke include (affected pets may not show ALL of these signs):

    • Excessive panting and salivation;
    • Weakness;
    • Vomiting;
    • Diarrhoea;
    • Red or pale gums;
    • Bruising of the gums and/or skin;
    • Tremors;
    • Seizures/Fits.

If your pet has been exposed to a hot environment and develops any of the above signs, it needs to be brought to a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY for urgent medical attention. While making your way to the veterinarian, you can help your pet by doing the following:

    • Measure the rectal temperature with a digital thermometer if you know how to do so safely. Normal body temperature for dogs and cats is approximately 38.0 to 39.5 degC. Dogs and cats with heatstroke typically have a body temperature of more than 41.0 degC;
    • Move your pet to a cool, shaded area and direct a fan towards it;
    • Cool the body by placing cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits and in the groin areas;
    • Call your veterinarian to inform them of your pet’s condition and arrival so preparations can be made for your pet’s necessary care.

Practising the above measures does not replace immediate veterinary attention.

Things NOT to do:

    • Do not panic;
    • Do not use ice or cold water to cool your pet. Overcooling shrinks blood vessels around the body, leading to trapping of heat within the body;
    • Do not force water into your pet’s mouth. You may offer water if your pet is alert and able to drink by itself;
    • Do not leave your pet unattended.

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Some tips to prevent heat stroke include:

    • Avoiding walks or heavy activity during hot periods of the day. Walk you dog in the early morning or at night when it is cooler;
    • Never leave your pet in a vehicle with the air-conditioning switched off, no matter for how short a period of time;
    • Watch your pets closely during walks or exercise and allow immediate rest when it looks tired or unwilling to walk;
    • Provide fresh drinking water at all times, especially after a walk or exercise;
    • Provide a well-ventilated, shaded area for rest after walks or exercise;
    • Keep your dog’s coat as short as possible, especially during hot seasons;
    • Obese pets are more prone to heat stroke. Another good reason to trim that fat!

Continue to enjoy quality time with your pet while keeping you and your pet cool and safe!