Quick Read: Heat Can Be a Killer for Your Cat or Dog

Sun can kill pets. My dog is heavy breathing outside

My article in the Withernsea & District Community News

distributed to 9000 homes in East Yorkshire

Poppy’s Pets

The average body temperature of a cat and dog is higher than ours. Both will pant excessively to try and lower body heat as their temperature increases. Panting is one warning sign of heat exhaustion.

Heatstroke is severe, resulting from a dangerously elevated body temperature, and emergency veterinary treatment is vital.  The illness can cause severe organ damage or fatalities in just 15 minutes.

The mortality rate for dogs is high but the survival rate is more significant when owners have performed initial emergency first aid before transporting their pet to a vet.  Your vet will perform a medical assessment and treat your pet accordingly – survival depends on different factors.

Warning signs for heat exhaustion and heatstroke include:

  • Excessive panting (open-mouthed for a cat), drooling and thirst
  • Agitation (barking, restlessness, whimpering)
  • Disorientation
  • Lethargic, collapse (activity levels change)
  • Vomiting 

You’ll find posts on social media warning you about heatstroke in dogs, but cats suffer the same fate indoors or outdoors.

Related articles:

How to keep your cat cool in hot weather:

  • Keep blinds and curtains closed to block out the sun
  • If possible, keep a room ventilated
  • Put extra water bowls around the house so all pets can stay hydrated
  • Fill a hot water bottle with cool water and lay by your cat.
  • Squeeze a wet sponge over your feline’s body and wipe the water across the fur.

What is the 7-Second Rule?

Another danger for dogs (and cats) is outdoor hot surfaces. Dogs can burn their paw pads in 60 seconds, resulting in a trip to see a vet. 

Press the back of your hand against the ground or sand for 7 seconds.  If too hot for you, it is too hot for a dog’s paw pads. The consequence is skin destruction and pain for your dog.

Watch the Video: Showing you the 7 Second Rule and Extreme UK Heatwave (cats, dogs, small pets)

Did you know?

  • Dogs are at risk of heatstroke in outdoor temperatures of 20℃ to 23℃
  • It is safer to walk your dog before 8 am and after 8 pm
  • Animals in any vehicle in the sun or shade with the windows or boot open can still suffer heatstroke
  • Interior vehicle temperatures can be high on cloudy, hot days
  • If an outside temperature is  22℃, inside any vehicle will reach 47℃ in about one hour. The outcome: possible death
  • Always double the outside temperature to find an approximate vehicle interior temperature
  • Vets have treated heatstroke for dogs left inside caravans, conservatories, camper vans 
  • Driving at hot peak times can be a dangerous hazard for your pet
  • The old, the ill, and certain breeds are more prone to heatstroke
  • Cats’ shut-in greenhouses or sheds become a death trap. Check before locking up
  • It is important to put a bowl of water outside for animals and wildlife

Warning: never soak your pet in ice-cold water if heatstroke is suspected.  The reaction of the cold vs. overheated body may shock your pet.


I am not a qualified veterinary professional.  If you suspect your pet has symptoms of heatstroke, please telephone your local vet as an emergency and follow their advice.

Article published in the Withernsea & District Community News – August 2021

Updated 1st May 2024


The reason I write and make YouTube videos is to help you and your pets from my experiences, and to take you through a journey of Green Living from worm composting and bokashi.

Recent Posts