Pets with flat faces such as pugs and Persian cats are more prone to heatstroke. Also needing extra care are the older ones, those with heart or lung problems and those that are overweight

If you thought only human beings are at risk of sunstroke, you could be in for a surprise. The sun can be equally harsh on animals, too, especially pet dogs and cats. One proof is the number of canine and feline patients flocking the Government Super Speciality Veterinary Hospital at Narayanguda, with complaints of sunstroke and heatstroke.

Pets are being taken to the hospital with symptoms such as excessive panting or difficulty breathing, drooling, weakness, stupor, seizures, bloody diarrhoea and vomit and elevated body temperature, which are typical of heatstroke in animals, says A. Anjaiah, Deputy Director of the hospital.

“We are getting at least four to five such cases on an average a day and have treated over 40 cases during the past 10 days,” he says.

There were instances when pets died of heatstroke as they were not brought to the hospital in the early stages of the illness.

Pets with flat faces such as pugs and Persian cats are prone to heatstroke as they cannot pant effectively. Also needing extra care are the older ones and those with heart or lung problems and are overweight. It is a must to keep them in air-conditioned rooms or in cool places to prevent heat stroke, says Dr. Anjaiah.

One should never leave the pet unattended in a car. Even if the temperature is moderate outside, the same inside the car can rise quickly through an opening in the window or door.

“Dogs cannot perspire. They take in cooler air only through panting. So there is no way they can handle the stay inside a car filled with hot air,” he adds.

Providing the pet with plenty of cool and clean drinking water is very important to preclude dehydration. However, water should not be given immediately before, during or after exercise, as it could cause gastric torsion, which may be fatal for some breeds such as German Shepherd. Needless to say, the dog should not be exercised during mid-day, nor on a heated-up pavement. Early morning and late evening walks should be preferred on grass or roadside. Also, too much of exercise may result in heatstroke.

If it is absolutely necessary, there are some pet-specific sunscreens, which are non-fragrant and non-staining. Sunscreens meant for humans are a strict no-no for pets, as most of them could be toxic if licked up by the animals.

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