Keep your pets cool this Christmas and be aware
of the warning signs

While we enjoy the summer festivities this year, please keep in mind that the heat is a real danger for our pets (and wildlife too) and can be fatal. When we say it’s hot enough to fry an egg outside it’s also hot enough to fry our pets.

Our cats and dogs do not cool down as quickly or as easily as we humans do.  We all know they do not sweat and that they are dependant on panting to lower their body temperature. They cannot just change their fur coat at the drop of a hat like we can simply wear less. They don’t always have the benefit of a cold shower or an ice-block and certain breeds or age groups are more prone to heat stroke than others. Please be mindful of the following points:

v  Do not run or walk dogs during the hottest part of the day.

o   Walk your dog during the coolest times of the day like sunset or early sunrise.

o   Hot walkways can cause footpads to burn.

o   Forced exercise is a common cause on Heatstroke and we see this at the clinic a lot during summer.

v  Older dogs with heart disease or laryngeal paralysis are more prone to Heatstroke, as are overweight or obese pets.

v  Brachycephalic breeds (those with short noses) are more prone to Heatstroke, eg Bulldogs, Boston Terriers and Persian cats.

v  Dogs in warm areas with poor ventilation cannot cool down effectively.

v  Inside a car on a warm day (it doesn’t have to be hot!) is one of the worst places to leave your dog. We ALL know this by now.

v  Leaving dishes of water in the shade for your pets as well as birds and wildlife, who can also be struck down by a heatwave.

v  Ceramic water bowls are best for keeping water cool. Avoid aluminium or plastic as it tends to heat the water.


Guinea pigs, pet rats, birds and wildlife can also be affected by heatstroke. If possible, consider housing your small pets inside in the air-conditioning on hot days and make sure they always have access to well-ventilated shelter and cool water.

If you suspect an animal, whether it be one of your pets or wildlife, has been affected by heatstroke, contact us or the after hours veterinary emergency centre immediately.


Heatstroke can be lethal.

Signs of Heatstroke include:

v  Panting excessively

v  Very red or dark tongue and gums

v  Staggering

v  Rectal temperature above 39.2 degrees (if you have a thermometer))

v  Seizures

v  Some pets will vomit or have diarrhoea


If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, you can attempt to cool them using cool water, not ice, over their body until you get to a vet. Turn your car’s air conditioning on for travel.

Do not wrap your pet in wet towels as this will worsen their condition.

Even if it appears your pet has recovered it is still advisable to get them checked by us or the emergency clinic. Heat stroke can cause swelling of the brain or clotting disorders. Other subsequent complications include sepsis and gastrointestinal compromise.

Heatstroke is always serious. Please take precautions and keep everybody cool these holidays.