The Pet Directory - Dog Articles - Heat Stress in dogs and cats

The Pet Directory Dog Article - Heat Stress in dogs and cats

As published in The Pet Directory QLD, NT & WA Edition

Heat stress occurs when animals are exposed to high temperatures, high humidity and poor ventilation and so are unable to cool down. Animals loose heat by panting and increasing their respiratory rate, decreasing food intake, dilation of skin blood vessels, inactivity, drinking water and seeking cool places.

All animals can be affected but some are more at risk. These include dogs and cats with short noses such as boxers, pugs and Persians and animals with respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, fever, dehydration and obesity. Also, those that are old or very young also have an increased risk. Animals that have previously had heat stroke may be more susceptible to heat stress due to previous brain damage and the consequent inability to control body temperature.


  • Always make sure that your pet has plenty of fresh cool water at all times. On hot days provide two water dishes in case one is knocked over and place them where they will be in the shade all day
  • Avoid taking walks, playing or jogging with dogs during the hot time of the day. Try to walk in early morning or evening and remember that the road and footpath can also get very hot and burn your pet’s feet. If your dog is struggling to keep up, stop and let them have a rest. Stop regularly to give your dog a drink and rest.
  • Never leave your pet in a parked car even if the windows are down and its overcast as the temperature can rise quickly to lethal degrees. Within 6 minutes, most cars reach a temperature of 55ºC and this will almost kill a dog or cat.
  • Never leave your dog or cat confined in a shed or house without ventilation or extra cooling. On very hot days it may be best to keep your pets indoors but ensure that they are in a cool room and if necessary provide a fan or air conditioning to keep the temperature down. Kennels need to be in the shade and the roof should be insulated.
  • It may be an advantage to clip or trim the coat of long haired breeds, especially if the animal is overweight or geriatric. Be careful of clipping too close as they may get sunburn.
  • In extremely hot days, your pet may be cooled by hosing down or putting in a water bath. If your pet likes water, you may wish to provide them with a wading pool so they can cool down during the day. Be careful of current water restrictions.

Call the vet hospital as soon as possible on (02) 9627 1257 and ask for advice.

In the meantime move your pet to a cool area and try to keep them quiet. Cool them down slowly with a cool hose or damp towels. If they can sit up, you can place them in cool water in a bath or tub for short periods of time. Be careful as this can drop their temperature too low. Ice bags can be placed over areas containing large blood vessels such as the groin, upper neck and head.

It is important that you pet is examined by a vet as there are serious complications such as brain swelling, convulsions, shock, kidney failure or even death. The vet may need to give medication to prevent seizures and place them on drip as they can be dehydrated.

When transporting your pet to the vet, keep then cool by using the air conditioning in the car or wetting the animals and using wet towels to keep then cool.

Information Supplied by:
Vineyard Veterinary Hospital

703 WIndsor Road,
Vineyard, NSW 2765
Phone (02) 9627 1257
Supercoat Baked Bones
Troy Laboratories
Yamato Akitas
Be active with your dog -

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