Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 29, 2016
When Australia’s Summer scorchers come around, we often think of the elderly and young children as being most at risk of heatstroke, but researchers say our pets are just as vulnerable.
With temperatures set to reach the high thirties in Sydney this week and expected to exceed 40C in our west, Dr Fawcett from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science says it’s more important than ever that we keep our companions cool.
“The mortality rate of dogs admitted to veterinary hospital is 50 to 65 percent so it is crucial owners take every precaution to make sure their animal companions are safe and healthy,” she said.
Heat stress can be harmful for dogs in two ways.
Firstly, injuries caused by direct heat or overheating, and then secondly with the after effects of dehydration, shock and poor circulation, according to Dr Fawcett.
“While some animals present with obvious symptoms such as panting, lethargy, noisy breathing and red gums, others will be more difficult to detect and may not even be hot to touch,” she said.
“Diagnosis is often tricky, because many owners have begun cooling their animal prior to veterinary attention being received – the presence of a normal or even LOW body temperature does not rule out a diagnosis of heat stroke.”
These are Dr Fawcett’s top five tips to keep our furry friends safe from heatstroke this season:
- Where possible, keep companion animals indoors or board them in an air-conditioned facility.
- Shade is key to keeping companion animals safe. Make sure they have access to shade all day, as shady spots can disappear as the sun moves.
- Cool and iced water is essential. I always provide a small ice-bucket for my guinea pigs on hot days.
- Provide adequate ventilation throughout the day.
- Do NOT leave animals in a car without air conditioning.