Heatwave prompts warning from animal protection society

First heatwave for summer prompts alert from MSPCA about dogs being at high risk for heat stroke

Photo: MSPCA
Photo: MSPCA

Did you know that if your dog or cat has a white coat, it is essential to apply sun cream, particularly to the tips of their ears and their noses, to prevent sunburn?

Recent high temperatures experienced across the island have prompted the MSPCA to release recommendations on keeping pets safe from the heat.

“As we are in the middle of our first summer heatwave, we must take some time to think about our four-legged, furry companions and how to keep them cool. Unlike us, dogs only have sweat glands on the pads of their feet which means dogs rely on panting to regulate their body temperature,” the MSPCA said.

Dogs are at high at risk of heat stroke with current temperatures, with the MSPCA recommending owners avoid walking dogs during the middle of the day. “Aim to walk dogs early in the morning or during the evening when it is cooler. People must be aware that hot pavements can burn pads; if it is too hot to put your hand on the floor, then it is too hot for your dog’s pads.”

Also ensure your pet has access to a cool, shaded area at all times. Providing your dog with a cooling mat or an ice pack can help them stay cool.

“Some dogs love water, and a paddling pool can be a fun way for your dog to cool down. However, if your dog does not like water, it is essential not to force them!” the MSPCA said. “Ensure there is always plenty of drinking water available; adding ice cubes to the water can help.”

And the long-established norm: never leave dogs or cats in cars.

Heat stroke is a potentially life-threatening condition and can become fatal if not treated quickly. The symptoms include panting excessively, drooling, confusion, agitation and restlessness, vomiting and diarrhoea, red gums and or tongue. These symptoms can progress to little to no urine production, lethargy or collapse and even seizures.

All dogs are susceptible, but there is an increased risk with animals that are overweight, have flat faces such as French bulldogs and pugs, large breed dogs, animals with thick coats, very old or very young animals and animals with pre-existing health conditions in particular heart or lung disease.

“If you are concerned that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, it is important to contact your vet immediately as heat stroke is an emergency,” said MSPCA’s Education Manager, Rebecca Hampson.

The MSPCA said owners who suspect heat stroke at home could do the following to prevent the dog's condition from getting worse.

“Place your dog in a cool area immediately and use a fan to cool them if possible, offer water but do not force them to drink, and actively cool with lukewarm water; it is important not to use cold water. Either pour a small amount of water directly onto their fur or place a wet towel on them.”