Every year, thousands of dogs suffer from heat stroke, and unfortunately some do not survive. Heat stroke is not the same as having a ‘fever’; whereby other illnesses (usually an infection) cause the body temperature to rise above normal levels. Heat stroke occurs when the animals’ heatdissipating mechanisms cannot accommodate excessive heat and the body effectively begins to ‘melt’. It is caused by exposure to excessive ambient temperatures or failure of the body to cool itself efficiently.
In many cases owners are not aware that their dog is battling heat stroke until the condition is very advanced. Immediate emergency veterinary treatment is necessary to control the animals’ body temperature to try to prevent organ damage (which can ultimately lead to death). Therefore, early recognition of the signs of heat stroke by owners is critical to saving the animals’ life.
NOTE! Brachycephalic (short-nosed) dog breeds such as Boxers, Pugs & Bulldogs are at greater risk of heat stroke due to their physical characteristics, so their owners need to be especially aware of heat stress risks and symptoms.
Veterinary professionals are appealing to motorists to realise the dangers of leaving animals, especially dogs, unattended in cars and on the back of ute trays this summer.
“Cars left stationary in warm weather become ovens and dogs can develop heat stroke and suffer a cruel death in only six minutes. Ute trays also become extremely hot so these dogs can suffer a similar fate.”
RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian Dr. Magdoline Awad
Cooling your pet quickly is very important.
Wet their coat with cool (not ice cold) water and transport them to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Ensure the car is kept cool on the journey. Phone ahead if possible so the vet can prepare for your arrival and assist you. Severe hyperthermia can affect nearly every system in the body and can be fatal.