Before the summer’s official start, British Columbia experienced a prolonged heat wave, which does not bode well for the remaining summer months. The extreme heat can be detrimental to your furred and feathered friends. Our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital wants to help keep your critters cool by educating you on the heat’s effect on your pets, and steps you can take to protect them from the heat.
Protect your cat and dog from the heat
You may have noticed that on a hot, humid day, your dogs and cats are not covered in sweat. Your dog will typically pant more on a hot day because they cool themselves when air circulates through their mouth, and over their tongue and soft tissues, causing evaporation. Cats usually groom themselves more on hot days, because they cool themselves as their saliva evaporates off their coat. These measures are not as efficient as sweating, and may not be effective enough in extreme temperatures. The normal temperature for cats and dogs is between 101 degrees and 102.5 degrees. If their temperature reaches 105, this indicates heatstroke, and signs can include excessive panting or drooling, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, and collapse. To prevent heatstroke in cats and dogs, steps you can take include:
- Never leaving them in an unattended vehicle
- Ensuring they are adequately hydrated by providing continuous fresh water
- Not allowing them to exercise too much on a hot, humid day
- Keeping older pets, overweight pets, and pets dealing with a heart or respiratory issue inside in an air conditioned home, except for short potty breaks
If your cat or dog overheats, take them to the coolest area you can find, offer them drinking water, and use cool water to start bringing their body temperature down. Take them to Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital as soon as possible.
Protect your bird from the heat
Your bird also lacks the ability to sweat. They rely on panting or gular fluttering, which looks like their throat is vibrating, to help cool their bodies. Their rapid respiration rate also contributes to heat dispersal. The normal temperature range for birds varies depending on the species, but can be 102 to 109 degrees. If your bird overheats, signs may include holding their wings away from their body, fluffing out their feathers, open mouthed breathing, decreased activity, sitting on the bottom of their cage, and head tilting. To prevent heatstroke in birds, steps you can take include:
- Not leaving your bird outside in the direct sunlight on hot, humid days
- Not putting their cage next to a window in full sunlight
- Ensuring their cage has adequate ventilation
- Changing out their water frequently
- Never transporting them in a hot car
- Keeping them at a healthy weight, since overweight birds are at higher risk for heatstroke
If your bird becomes overheated, mist them with cool water. You can also provide a room temperature water bath for them to cool themselves. Do not use cold water, because this could result in shock. Consult our team at Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital for further instructions.
Protect your rabbit from the heat
Rabbits do not sweat, and their fur is extremely insulated, so they cool themselves by diverting blood flow to their ears where the fur is thin. The normal temperature range for rabbits is 101.5 to 104 degrees. When your rabbit overheats, signs may include hot, floppy ears, increased respiration rate, lethargy, wetness around their nose, open mouthed breathing, and tossing back their head. To prevent heatstroke in rabbits, steps you can take include:
- Not putting your rabbit’s cage in direct sunlight
- Using oscillating fans to provide ventilation
- Changing out their water frequently, and keeping the waterers clean
- Placing frozen water bottles wrapped in towels in their cage
- Feeding them frozen veggies
If your rabbit overheats, take them to a cool area, provide them with drinking water, and use cool water to dampen their ears. Take them to Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital as soon as possible.
Protect your ferret from the heat
Ferrets are prone to heatstroke and can become heat stressed when temperatures reach 85 degrees, or lower, if the humidity is high. In addition to panting, ferrets keep cool by limiting their activity and lying prone. They also refrain from eating, since digestion generates heat. The normal temperature for a ferret is 100 to 103 degrees. If your ferret overheats, signs may include excessive panting, mucous from their nose and mouth, footpads turning red, shallow breathing, and seizures. To prevent heatstroke in ferrets, steps you can take include:
- Moving their cage to the coolest area in your home
- Providing a water bath for them to play in
- Changing out their water frequently
- Using a fan to provide circulation
If your ferret overheats, take them to a cool area, and provide drinking water. Wipe them down using cool, wet towels, or pour cool water over them. Take them to Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital as soon as possible.
Do not let your pet feel the heat on these hot summer days. Take the necessary precautions to ensure they stay cool and stress-free. If you are concerned your pet has overheated, contact our team at Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital immediately.