Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke or heat stress is not something to be taken lightly, this can be a life threatening condition and unfortunately in our tropical climate it is something we see too often. When your pets core body temperature becomes too high it can cause massive damage and even lead to organ failure in some cases.

Signs of heat stroke

  • Constant and unusual rapid panting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Restlessness and unwilling to settle
  • Not wanting to move or collapse
  • Very pale or dark red gums
  • Little or no urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness and staggering
  • Muscle tremors or seizures

What to do

Heat stroke is a deadly condition which is always an emergency. Ring the clinic and let us know that you are coming so we can be prepared to help as soon as you arrive. Offering cool water to drink and wetting the animal with cool (not cold) water and placing in front of the fan or air conditioning can help to try and cool them down while you are bringing them into the clinic.

What happens at the vet

We use cooling treatments, intravenous fluid therapy and oxygen therapy to help your pets. We also use blood tests to assess for organ damage and provide medications to help manage the results of the heat stress on your pets body.


Heat stress can happen to any animal but there are some things which increase the chances of your pet being affected.

Obesity                                                                                                                                                       – animals that are obese cannot get rid of heat properly through their skin and they have more problems breathing due to the fat over their chest. Helping your pet to lose weight will benefit them in many ways not just to prevent heat stroke.

Thick or long coats                                                                                                                                         – fur is designed to keep an animal warm, it does not protect or insulate them from the heat. Clipping long haired animals during summer can really help them stay cool.

– too much exercise can be bad or even a normal amount of exercise when it is too hot eg from midmorning to early afternoon can cause heat stroke so stick to cooler times of the day times to exercise your animals.

Dehydration                                                                                                                                                 – to prevent dehydration always provide your pets with at least one or two clean, fresh water sources to keep them drinking. Also keep an eye on the water level to make sure they are drinking.

Disease or old age                                                                                                                                     – any disease that compromises your animals health makes it harder for them to deal with the heat, in particular animals with lung or heart conditions. Also as animals age their bodies are not as resilient and it can take much less to effect them so be aware of this and always provide your pets with a cool environment away from the heat.

Young animals                                                                                                                                             – young animals are not as good at regulating their body temperatures and also may not have learned that sun baking is a bad idea! Keep an eye on the little ones and always provide shelter from the sun.

Animals with short noses
– eg bulldogs and pugs or persian cats are not able to breath as well as animals with longer snouts and are therefore less able to get rid of heat through panting and breathing. Be aware of this and make sure to always provide them with cool fresh water, shade and do not exercise them in the hot part of the day.


If you are worried that your pet has heat stroke or if it has any of the above signs please give us a call on (07)4956 1897.

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