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Vets warn of spike in heat-related pet health problems

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Vets warn of spike in heat-related pet health problems 18/12/2015

The intense heat has veterinarians at Lort Smith Animal Hospital bracing for an influx of heat-related issues.

Russell Harrison, Head of Hospital Services at Lort Smith Animal Hospital said that pets with underlying medical issues, the very young and the very old are most at risk.

"The most important message is not to tether animals out in the sun and don’t leave them in cars, even for a short time with the windows down. In a car, heat stress and death can occur within a few minutes," said Dr Harrison.  

"The main thing to remember is that heat stroke can set in extremely fast if an animal is exposed and you must seek veterinary attention immediately."

Dr Harrison said that the warning signs of heat stroke in pets include excessive panting; dark or bright red tongue and gums; sticky or dry gums and tongue; staggering; seizures; diarrhoea or vomiting.

"If you are concerned your pet has been affected, get them into a cooler environment; use wet cloths but not iced water to cool them; and offer them water but don’t force them to drink." 

"Even if the animal cools and appears to recover, we recommend taking it to a vet as for a thorough check as internal organs could have been affected," Dr Harrison said.

Five top tips to protect your pet in heat:

  • Make sure your pets have constant access to cool water and shade or keep them indoors, as heat stress can develop extremely quickly on hot days.
  • Have more than one source of water, so that if a bowl gets knocked over or the shade disappears, there is an alternative source of cool water.
  • Avoid walking or exercising your pet on hot days; otherwise walk your dog in the morning when the temperature is the coolest.
  • For smaller animals, such as guinea pigs, a little bag of ice wrapped in small wet towels could provide heat relief, and for birds a gentle misting might help, as long as it doesn’t stress them.
  • Some dogs will avoid drinking from bowls with floating ice cubes, but you can freeze half-filled bowls and then top them up with cool water before putting them out.

For an interview, photo or filming opportunity of our adoption centre pets keeping cool in paddling pools, please contact Caroline Ottinger, 0417 305 310 or 9321 7286 or Cottinger@lortsmith.com

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