Heatwave: pet owners cautioned

Animals need to be protected from heatstroke or heat stress that can be caused by a warm/hot, humid environment; lack of adequate ventilation/air flow; lack of shade; lack of drinking water; and exercise on a hot day.

Heatstroke is a very serious condition, which can lead to death.

Watch out for incessant panting; drooling, salivating; agitation, restlessness; very red or pale gums; bright red tongue; increased heart rate; breathing distress; vomiting, diarrhoea (possibly with blood); signs of mental confusion, delirium; dizziness; staggering; lethargy; weakness; muscle tremors; seizures; collapsing and lying down; little to no urine production; or coma.

You can help to prevent heatstroke. Providing a cool, shaded area with good ventilation and air flow are important as many animals cool down via evaporative cooling, which requires air flow.

Provide lots of clean water.

Bring animals indoors on hot, humid days if the indoor environment is cooler for the animal.

Small animals including rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, birds, rats and mice require clean, fresh drinking water at all times.

On very hot days you may need to bring them indoors.

Do not exercise animals in hot, humid conditions. On hot days, try to walk your dog very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon when it is cool.

Do not leave your dog in a car or vehicle, even when the windows are down as dogs can still overheat and die.

Avoid hot sand, concrete, asphalt areas or any other areas where heat is reflected and there is no access to shade.

Some guidelines on what to do in the case your pet has a heatstroke:

-First step is to instigate Emergency First Aid at home; the aim of first aid is to help normalise body temperature.

-Apply or spray tepid/cool water onto the animal’s fur/skin, followed by fanning of the pet to maximise heat loss.

-Wetting down the area around your pet can also help.

-Don’t use ice-cold water or ice as this may exacerbate the problem. Then take your pet to the nearest vet immediately.