ADVICE FROM THE RSPCA WA FOR ANIMAL CARE AND PROTECTION DURING THE COMING WEEKEND’S HEATWAVE
The RSPCA WA would like to remind pet owners of their responsibility and accountability towards their animals during what is anticipated to be a low to severe heat wave along the west coast of Western Australia this weekend. More information can be obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology.
Animals need to be protected from heatstroke or heat stress that can be caused by a warm/hot, humid environment; lack of adequate ventilation/air flow; lack of adequate shade; lack of adequate drinking water and excessive exercise on a hot day. Heatstroke is a very serious condition which can lead to multiple organ failure and even death.
Depending on severity, the common signs include incessant panting; drooling, salivating; agitation, restlessness; very red or pale gums; bright red tongue; increased heart rate; breathing distress; vomiting, diarrhoea (possibly with blood); signs of mental confusion, delirium; dizziness; staggering; lethargy; weakness; muscle tremors; seizures; collapsing and lying down; little to no urine production; coma.
You can help to prevent heatstroke by ensuring your pets are kept in appropriate environmental conditions and being aware of the symptoms so action can be taken swiftly.
Some general preventative/caring guidelines:
- Provide pets with a cool, shaded area with good ventilation at all times - adequate ventilation and air flow are important as many animals cool down via evaporative cooling (panting) which requires adequate air flow.
- Provide plenty of clean fresh water and extra water sources in case of spillage.
- Bring animals indoors on hot, humid days if the indoor environment is cooler for the animal (e.g. air-conditioning, child-safe fans, open windows where possible and shade).
- Small animals including rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, birds, rats and mice are highly susceptible to heat stress (which can be fatal). These animals are often confined in cages and hutches and are unable to move away to cooler places. Owners need to move these animals into a cool, shaded and well-ventilated area in hot weather. They also require clean, fresh drinking water at all times. On very hot days you may need to bring them into a cool place indoors.
- Do not exercise animals in hot, humid conditions. On hot days try to walk your dog very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon when it is cool, and avoid the hottest part of the day.
- Do not leave your dog in a car or vehicle - even when the windows are down dogs can still overheat and die.
- Avoid hot sand, concrete, asphalt areas or any other areas where heat is reflected and there is no access to shade.
Some guidelines on what to do in the case your pet has a heatstroke:
- First step is to instigate Emergency First Aid at home - the aim of first aid is to help normalise body temperature.
- Apply or spray tepid/cool water onto the animal’s fur/skin. Followed by fanning of the pet to maximise heat loss.
- Wetting down the area around your pet can also help.
- Don't use ice-cold water or ice as this may exacerbate the problem.
- Then take your pet to the nearest Vet immediately.
- Heat stroke is a life threatening emergency - always see a vet. Even if your pet looks like they may be recovering or you just suspect they might have heat stroke they should still always be checked by a vet. Given the seriousness of this condition, it is better to be safe than sorry and have your pet checked out by a vet.