ExcelVets Robina

237 Scottsdale Dr
Robina Qld 4226
Phone: 07 5562 5777
Fax: 07 5562 5522

Business Hours

8:00 - 5:30 Mon - Fri
8:30 - 11:30 Sat

After Hours Emergency

07 5559 1599


Heat Stress in Pets



Over the summer period, 'heat exhaustion' and 'heat stroke' are not only a danger for humans, but they present an extreme danger for our beloved pets. It is very sad when a healthy pet dies from something avoidable such as heat stroke. However in Queensland, and here on the Gold Coast, it is a high risk situation if we are not careful.

We need to be continually mindful of our pets well-being and needs during the summer season. In this article we will outline a few suggestions of ways in which you can minimise the risk of this ever occurring. 

What is 'Heat Stroke'?

Heat Stroke is an emergency and when discovered, requires urgent treatment. People sweat to cool down. Dogs and cats do not sweat the way people do, and consequently do not tolerate the heat quite as well.

They depend on panting to exchange warm air for cooler air. However when the temperature in their environment is high and close to their body temperature, cooling by panting, is not very effective.

When animals are not able to effectively cool themselves down, they can rapidly develop heat stroke which is both serious and life threatening.

What are the signs of 'Heat Stroke'?

You need to be aware of the signs of heat stroke, so that you act immediately should it ever occur.

  • Heavy panting and drooling
  • Excessive thirst Difficult breathing
  • The tongue and gums can be bright red initially but as it becomes more serious, they can turn grey
  • Vomiting and / or bloody diarrhoea
  • Weakness, staggering, collapse, seizures
  • Rectal temperature can rise to between 40 to 43 degrees celsius

If the above signs are not recognised and corrected, collapse and death will quickly follow as the overheated pet suffers life threatening damage to the brain, heart, liver and nervous system.

All this can occur within minutes.

What can you do to keep your pet safe?

Despite older pets, or pets with compromised health being more at risk of suffering heat related illnesses during summer, fit and healthy dogs also suffer from heat stress or heat stroke if exposed to the right conditions.

Some strategies to prevent your pet from developing these life threatening heat related illnesses include:

  • Make sure your pets have plenty of water each day. We would suggest even having a second water bowl as a back up if you are not home much during the day, just in case their main bowl gets knocked over, or they require more than you thought.
  • Ensure your pets have shelter from the sun, some shade, or a place they can go to cool down during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Never leave your pet in the car in hot weather, the temperature sores in minutes. Even leaving windows partially open on a hot day, is not a safe practise in summer.
  • Take care when exercising your pet in summer. It is best at this time to take them for a walk early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Strenuous exercise in hot weather, puts your dog at risk.
  • Provide a shell with water, or a small area where your pet can take a dip in a shallow pool of water to cool down - or why not have some fun with your pet when your are at home, by playing in the sprinkler with them, or hosing them down. This is especially great for outdoor dogs.
  • A 'nice hair cut' can be a great thing to do in summer, if your pet has a long coat. It will make the summer season much more comfortable for them.
  • If your pet has a flat face and a short nose, such as a Bulldog, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, or Persian, they are at greater risk of developing heat related diseases, so even greater care should be taken with these pets.


So what do you do if your dog develops heat stress or heat stroke? The moment you realise your pet is suffering from the heat, emergency measures to cool them down must be started immediately.

  • If mild, they can be taken away from the heat, and put in a cool environment, preferably an air conditioned room. If they are more serious (rectal temperature is greater than 40 degrees C), rapid cooling is urgent.
  • Hose your pet down, or soak your pet's body in cool water.
  • If possible put your pet in front of a fan after she has been soaked with water.
  • If you have a thermometer you can use, it can come it quite handy to keep a check on the temperature.
      If during the cooling process, the temperature falls below 39 degrees Celsius, you can stop the cooling process, as further cooling may lead to hypothermia.
      Following the above emergency procedures, take your pet directly to the vet to have them checked, as complications associated with heat stroke are life threatening.
      The vet may decide to put them on intravenous fluids immediately, to replace fluids lost.
      If their throat is starting to swell, and they are showing signs of respiratory distress, the vet may give a life saving injection
      Or perform an emergency tracheotomy if needed
      The bottom line is "Heat stroke is preventable, if we use common sense strategies". We all love our pets, so please take extra special care of them during the hot Queensland Summer.