First aid for a pet with heat stroke

Last summer we had far too many pets in at ARH Brisbane fighting for their life after succumbing to heatstroke.

Symptoms of heatstroke can include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Bright red gums and tongue which turn to blue
  • Salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Anxious pacing, lack of coordination, stumbling
  • Seizures or strange behaviour
  • Collapse and coma

If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, we recommend immediate first aid at home followed by an urgent visit to your local vet or emergency hospital (after hours).

To apply first aid at home you can:

  • Soak a towel in cool water and drizzle it onto your pet concentrating on the head, stomach, neck, inner thighs and pads of the feet.
  • Wrap your pet in a cool wet towel, continuing to replace the towel with a cool, wet one. Don’t leave the towel on your pet as this can heat up.
  • For larger pets, gently hose or bathe with cool water, followed by cool towels applied to the head and stomach.
  • To avoid hypothermia, cool your pet slowly using cool water NOT iced water.
  • Extra care should be taken with brachycephalic pets (those with short noses) as they can’t regulate heat effectively.

It’s important to make sure your pet has plenty of accessible cool water sources and shaded rest areas.

Exercise should be kept to the cool part of the day and a trim to your pet’s long hair can help.

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