KUALA LUMPUR: The extreme hot weather that is currently hitting several countries not only affects humans, but also poses a risk to animals which can suffer from heat stroke.

Former National Zoo assistant director, Associate Prof Datuk Dr Vellayan Subramaniam who is also UiTM Faculty of Pharmacy lecturer in Puncak Alam, said that just like humans, heat stroke can also prove fatal as well as cause damage to the internal organs of animals if not treated immediately.

"All animals that are classified as mammals, reptiles or birds are also susceptible to heat stroke, for example dogs and cats that only have very few sweat glands located on the soles of the feet and also around the nose to sweat, unlike humans whose sweat glands are distributed almost all over the body," he told Bernama TV in a special online interview here.

At the same time, he said animals in the zoo are also well cared during the hot seasons with zookeepers providing enough water source for them to wet their bodies, although sometimes problems may arise because not all animals like to soak in water such as cows, buffaloes and elephants.

Dr Vellayan, who was also the National Zoo's former chief veterinarian, explained that for animals with an aversion to water, they need to be given enough drinking water, aside from being placed in an area with good ventilation.

"For animals that are always in water or immersed like penguins and otters, it is recommended that the water pool be supplemented with blocks of ice to ensure they stay cool because water that does not flow can also increase in temperature if the heat is scorching," he said.

Dr Vellayan also reminded owners of pets such as dogs and cats to always be aware of the health condition of their animals to avoid the risk of heat stroke.

"For pets such as dogs and cats, symptoms include rapid heartbeat, mobility impairment, appearing dazed and confused, salivating a lot, has a blue tongue and gums due to lack of oxygen in the blood.

"In addition, the animal's body temperature will also exceed 42 degrees (Celcius), lack balance or stability when standing up on four legs and if this happens, the owner needs to stabilise the animal's body temperature and take it to the vet immediately because if neglected, it can lead to death,"' he said.

According to him, pet owners can also ease the symptoms of heat stroke and dehydration by drenching their pet's body or placing a wet towel on its head and forehead, in addition to giving them water to drink and wetting their tongues.