“It’s common sense, if it burns our hands, it burns his paws” – Liberation

As temperatures continue to rise this Friday throughout France, Estelle Prietz, veterinarian and head of the animal protection commission at the Order of Veterinarians, summarizes the main actions to take to refresh and protect our little companions.

If you’re hot, so are they. Under their fur, dogs and cats have to deal with the high temperatures that are spreading across the territory this week. From changing their diet to going under the foggers to taking walks at dawn, several tricks can be used to help them withstand the heat wave. And it is up to the owners to remain vigilant to avoid heatstroke, remind Release Estelle Prietz, veterinarian at Six-Fours-les-Plages (Var) and head of the animal protection commission at the Order of Veterinarians.

Are our animals also experiencing the heat wave?

Dogs and cats experience heat just like us. They have a constant body temperature of 38.5°C and if it rises, they try to regulate it. The big difference is that they can’t sweat even though that’s the easiest way to get rid of the heat. Instead they gasp, that is to say, their breathing rate increases to cool their blood via the pulmonary alveoli. But it is a “cooling system” which remains limited if it is very hot.

What are the signs of heatstroke to watch out for in dogs and cats?

Heat stroke can be fatal very quickly in animals. If their temperature rises above 42°C, it is very difficult to have a reversible action. As soon as you see your animal tired, lying on its side, panting a lot and showing signs of agitation, the first thing to do is to cool it with wet cloths. If it is small, it can be bathed in a sink but never with ice water, only ambient. Then, do not hesitate to go to the veterinarian. It’s something that doesn’t wait, a real emergency.

In cats, the stroke of heat is much more discreet so you have to remain attentive, especially since it tends to hide in small nooks. Above all, it must not remain blocked in an unventilated place. But the most important thing is to take precautions for the most fragile animals: the very young, the oldest and those with a chronic illness because their organism has much more difficulty adapting to their environment.

How can you help your animal cool off?

To prevent their body temperature from rising too much, do not hesitate to humidify the animals. We are not going to pass them with a water jet, but we can caress them with wet towels several times a day. It is best to wet the less hairy areas, such as the belly. You can also put mats in the fridge or leave slightly damp cloths on the floor for the animal to lie on. On the other hand, there’s no need to try to tickle your cat with a wet toothbrush, as some trends show, he probably won’t let it go.

Another essential thing, of course: to make them drink as much as possible, even if it is impossible to force them. On the other hand, it is possible to “cheat” by making their food more moist, by adding water to their bowl. And like us, animals tend to lose their appetite when it’s hot, it’s normal for them to eat a little less. But you still have to watch their weight if the situation continues.

What are the behaviors to adopt outside?

Of course, it is necessary to avoid any expenditure of energy and to walk your dog only early in the morning and late in the evening. On the one hand to prevent them from getting too hot, and because they don’t have shoes, so hot coatings such as bitumen or sand can burn the pads. Some owners test the temperature by putting their hand on the floor. It’s common sense, if it burns our hands, it burns his paws.

And of course, transport by car is completely prohibited at the moment, even with air conditioning or open windows. Five minutes of heat can be fatal for animals. You just have to put yourself in their shoes: you don’t take your child in the car in the heat wave, you don’t drag your dog there either.


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