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How to look after a pet with hyperthermia

Learn about hyperthermia, what can cause it, and how to handle a pet suffering from it.
Image of a dog with its hair being blown with the wind.
An animal that has developed hyperthermia from the environment (e.g. trapped in a hot car, no shade on a hot day) or overexertion (e.g. taken for a run on a hot day, working dogs not taking appropriate rest breaks) will need active cooling.

If a temperature is severe (usually above 40.5 in cats and dogs), it can begin to damage organs and should be actively cooled. This is best done by wetting towels or blankets and draping them over the animal. A fan can be placed near the animal once they are wet to increase evaporative cooling.

Direct cool water can be used in medium to large animals, concentrating on the groin, underarms, and sparsely haired abdomen, but it is important to continue to monitor the temperature very closely and dry them off quickly once they are stabilising.

Many animals that have had a high temperature have then engaged all their body’s defences to help them bring the temperature down again – if you cool them suddenly, their body might not adapt quickly enough to stop itself from suddenly over-cooling and becoming too cold instead. Stop with active cooling once an animal reaches 39.5 degrees – they can usually compensate from there.

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Basic First Aid for Animals and Pets

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