Heat stroke claims spike

Pet parents urged to protect pets from heat

While most Kiwis welcome a hot summer, sun and heat exposure can pose significant dangers to pets. Like humans, pets can also suffer from heatstroke, dehydration, sunburn and heat exhaustion, not to mention burned paws.

The hottest months haven’t even arrived yet, but in the past week alone pet insurance specialist PD Insurance has already seen three claims for heatstroke, says its COO Michelle Le Long.

“One of our sweet customers, ‘Dexter’, developed heatstroke at doggy daycare and was hospitalised for management of respiratory distress and temporary tracheostomy. Luckily for him and his parent, we provided a soft landing by paying out a claim of over $4,700 for all the vet costs,” she says.

“Thankfully, all three pets are happy and healthy today, but unfortunately that’s not always the case because heatstroke can cause organ failure and sadly lead to the beloved pet passing away. Even if your pet survives it’s a very stressful and unpleasant experience for both pet and parent. Prevention is always better than cure, so we should all take time to revisit the steps to pet summer safety.”    

Unlike humans, cats and dogs can’t handle hot weather particularly well. After all, neither species sweats like we do and they’re covered in a coat of insulating fur.

With that said, PD Insurance provides 8 top tips for keeping pets cool on hot days:

  1. Pets can dehydrate fast. Make sure there’s plenty of fresh, clean water, and a cool, shady place available where they can rest out of the sun’s harsh rays.
  2. Don’t overexercise. Just as you’d seek shelter in the pool or under a roof in the heat of the day, don’t take your pet for a prowl if it’s sweltering. Early mornings and evenings are best.
  3. Avoid hot pavements, roads and sand. Paws can burn, leaving your pal in an unpleasant place and you with a potential vet bill. If you can’t walk on it barefoot, neither can they.
  4. No parked cars. This is a more obvious one, but it must be said: don’t leave your pet in a parked car. Not only do parked cars act as an oven, heating up so rapidly that even a matter of minutes can put your pet into difficulty or worse, it’s an offence. Those who stray can expect a well-deserved reminder from authorities to the tune of $300.
  5. Avoid the burn. Bear in mind any pet can get sunburn and some breeds (e.g., Dalmatians, Sphynx and pale, thin fur or hairless dog/cats) are more prone to it, so take precautions. Use sunscreen made specifically for use on animals and avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight.
  6. Reduce the heat. Other pets may need to be actively cooled down – snub-nosed dogs like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers, and cats like Persians, can’t pant efficiently. For any pet that’s finding the heat a challenge, try a cool shower and/or position them under aircon or on a pet cooling mat. Long haired cats and dogs can benefit from more frequent brushing too, helping keep fur under control.
  7. Watch for heat stroke symptoms. An overheating pet might pant excessively, have difficulty breathing with an increased heart and respiratory rate, drool, display unusual weakness, appear ‘out of it’ or even collapse. Other more serious symptoms of heat stroke in pets include seizures, bloody diarrhoea and vomit plus a body temperature above 40 degrees. If symptoms appear, cool your pet, offer water and go straight to the nearest vet.
  8. Be careful around water. We love our beaches, rivers, lakes and streams, but these can be dangerous areas for your pets. Keep a close eye out because, just like with other family members, keeping cool around water can get them into trouble. Reduce any risk of your pet getting caught in a rip, washed away or swimming to the point of exhaustion.

Le Long concludes by saying, “A hot summer is something to be looked forward to. Make this one the best by taking your pet along to enjoy every moment while being sure to take special care of their needs. And remember, a vet bill for an overheated pet can be expensive, but insurance isn’t.” 

For further information, read these top tips for pet safety in summer.

Media contact 

Leandri Smith – The Mail Room 
027 365 9003 | [email protected]