How to Recognize and Treat Heatstroke in Domestic Animals

I didn’t recognize the thing that crawled up to me in my front yard that hot Saturday in July several years ago.It was white and furry and was crawling slowly toward me, keeping as close to the ground as possible. Finally, I realized that it was my cat Cactus Flower. I hadn’t even realized that she was out (in those days my cats stayed in.)

Her panting made me suspect that she was suffering from heatstroke. What to do ? I realized that I had to cool her down fast without traumatizing her and causing her to go into shock.I immediately in the coolest place I could think of, the basement, and I covered her with a towel that had been soaked in cold water. I then checked her breathing, which was slow and shallow.
I changed the cold towels often and then added a little chipped ice wrapped in a towel against her side. After consulting the Pet First Aid book that I had gotten when I took a First Aid or Animals class that had been given jointly by the Humane Society and the American Red Cross several years ago, I checked her gums to see if they were red. Indeed they were.

The book suggested that I encourage her to drink, and I did, although she was too weak to drink much. I left the bowl of water near her.Plan B suggested that I make chipped ice available to her. The book informed me that cats and dogs do not perspire as humans do. The only way that they can expel heat is to pant, which is not very efficient. It said that cats and dogs should be given a cool place with lots of water in hot weather.

The book claims that when dogs and cats lose fluids, they also lose electrolytes, essential minerals such as calcium and sodium. What I didn’t know at the time (and I’m not certain that it existed at that time) was that the lost electrolytes can now be replaced by putting two or three tablespoons of Gatorage in their water. The good news is that she survived, just, and the bad news is that I could have lost her through my ignorance.

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