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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Due to the heat warnings in place in the region, the North Peace Veterinary Clinic is advising pet owners to watch for signs of heatstroke in animals.

Kelsey Dawley, a veterinary assistant, says the biggest sign of heatstroke in both cats is really fast panting, “almost hyperventilating.”

“If we see panting in cats, for any reason, that is considered an emergency.”

For cats, due to their natural environment being the desert, Dawley says they are generally more tolerant to heat.

“They have a higher natural, internal body temperature than dogs,” she said, “So they’re less prone to heat stroke.”

If it progresses, dogs and cats could drool and have red gums.

“Their gums get redder than normal. Their mouth colour can either be bright red, or it can be more blue too, depending on what stage they’re at,” Dawley said.

Additionally, worsening signs could occur, such as vomiting, diarrhea, mental dullness, loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, and collapse.

“You’ll also start to notice in both cats and dogs that their feet will be very sweaty, because their only way of sweating is through the glands on their feet and their nose,” she added.

According to Dawley and the clinic, prevention is the key.

For animals in general, they recommend plenty of fresh and cool water at all times, adding ice cubes if needed.

Dawley recommends having a cool place the animal can be in during the hot days, such as a basement or a room with a fan or air conditioner.

She also recommends a cool, wet cloth for rabbits, cats, and even rats, to help them, and a kiddie pool for dogs.

“Cats, obviously, don’t love being wet, but if you need to, that’s an easy way to do it,” she said.

“Offer them some cool, wet food, with a little bit of extra water added can help with hydration as well in the hot temperatures.”

Last year Dawley says they had at least 10 cases of actual heatstroke in animals, with all of the worse symptoms, so the sooner they are called to get the animal help, the better.

She says it’s always best to call the vet at the first sign of heatstroke.

“Even if you’re just calling for advice and you don’t end up needing to bring the animal in, they might have some ideas to cool them off at home too,” she explained.

The veterinary treatment for heatstroke will include IV fluids, cooling therapies, and even oxygen if necessary, according to the veterinary clinic.

The clinic would like to remind pet owners never to leave a pet in a hot car, and that pavement can be extremely hot to animals’ paw pads, so check the pavement first and avoid going for walks during the hottest parts of the day.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.