Pet Heatstroke

Avoid the summer sizzle!

With summer rapidly approaching, it is important to remember the animals in our life and how the summer heat can effect them.

Just like us animals get hot!  We see it in the wildlife documentaries with Lions and Hyena on the savannah plains panting in the mid-day sun to keep cool.  Unlike humans, who have sweat glands all over their bodies and minimal hair, our dogs and cats have minimal sweat glands and an abundance of hair.  This makes regulating body temperature through sweating more difficult.  Both dogs and cats have sweat glands in their paws (dogs also have them on their nose), but this small surface area is not very efficient, which is why both dogs and cats pant to keep cool.

When humans sweat we use up electrolytes, largely sodium chloride based, which is why the salty food tastes so good in summer - we need to replace that lost sodium.  When dogs and cats pant, they actually lose more potassium salts, so it is really important that if you are giving your dog or cat an electrolyte replacer make sure use one designed for them, don’t use an electrolyte designed for humans or horses on your dogs and cats!

So how do you know if your dog or cat is over heating?  

  • Excessive painting is the most obvious and first, 
  • high body temperature, 
  • drooling, 
  • vomiting, 
  • increased heart rate, 
  • weakness, 
  • diarrhoea,
  • collapse and seizure

Clearly that is not going to be good for your pet,  what you don’t see is what is going on inside causing these symptoms.  Heatstroke can cause;

  • organ failure, 
  • brain swelling, 
  • blood clotting 
  • death.

So how do we manage these hot summer days?  The basic premise is to try to keep them cool and comfortable.  When thinking of ways to keep your pets cool, also remember that old, overweight or infirm pets are going the be more susceptible to heat stroke than younger healthier, slimmer pets.


  1. Make clean, cool, fresh water readily available.
  2. Use an oversized water bowl and have a frozen ice block in the middle to keep the water cool.
  3. Always keep the water in the shade,
  4. If you leave your pet at home always ensure you have more than one water source for them as you never know if an accident will happen and tip the water over.
  5. Pick the coolest time of the day to exercise dogs – either early in the morning or late at night – and don’t over-exercise them.  On really hot days try swimming your dog.
  6. Hose your dog down - you like a shower on a hot day don’t you?
  7. Pay particular attention the the areas on minimal hair and sponge your pets down to help cool them off.
  8. Create frozen treats for your dogs using meat, meat juices, or broth.  It is fun, will keep them occupied for hours and will keep them cool (just make sure they have a shady place to play!)
  9. Old, overweight and infirm pets should be treated as we treat people in the same condition.  Keep them indoors and cool.  If you are uncomfortable they probably are too!
  10. Your pets are your fur babies.  Your wouldn’t leave your kids in a car, so don’t leave your pets!
Some good dog electrolytes we stock are Recharge and BetaCel.  Lectade is good for both dogs and cats.