Dogs, cats and small animals can all be susceptible to overheating. Sometimes you may not even realize that the animal is in danger; for instance, a cat may sneak into a closed garage, or a dog may not come in from your yard even though they have a dog door installed. When a pet overheats, it's important to keep its temperature down as you head to the pet hospital.
Do Not Give It an Ice Bath
An animal that has overheated can be put into shock by putting it into an ice bath. In fact, any type of bath can be dangerous. Your goal is to reduce the animal's temperature slowly rather than rapidly. Any quick changes to the animal's temperature could cause more harm than good. This is especially true for smaller animals, as their systems are even more sensitive.
Wrap a Cold Bottle of Soda in a Towel
To lower your animal's temperature as you transport it, wrap a cold 2-liter (or similarly sized) bottle of soda or water in a towel and then place it next to the animal. Do not place the animal on the bottle and do not expose the animal's stomach to the bottle (as animals lose heat very quickly from their belly). The towel will dampen the cold while insulating the 2-liter, thereby gradually and gently cooling the animal down. You can also place the animal in a vehicle and turn the air conditioning on but do not turn it down past a comfortable temperature.
Provide Water Immediately
If your animal is conscious and able to drink, you should provide it with water possible. Make sure that someone is offering the animal water for the duration of the trip to the pet hospital. Dehydration is incredibly dangerous and is very common when an animal is overheating. However, do not attempt to force the animal to drink and do not place any water into the animal's mouth—only let them drink freely. If your animal cannot drink water, the pet hospital will give them IV fluids. Don't let your animal drink an excessive amount of water; water toxicity can occur when a dehydrated animal drinks too much all at once.
Call a local vet (such as one from Bijou Animal Hospital P.C.) immediately if your pet shows any of the following symptoms: weakness, collapse, throwing up or seizures. These are all signs of an elevated temperature. An overheated pet can have permanent damage to its brain and other organs. It should always be seen by a vet immediately following an incident, even if it appears to have recovered.