With summer quickly approaching, we are looking forward to beautiful weather, bright sunshine and time spent outside with our dogs. What a lot of dog owners do not realize is that summertime heat places our furry, four-legged friends in some danger. Dog heat stroke can be fatal, and this is something all dog owners should know. They should know how to recognize and to treat dog heat stroke (especially when a veterinarian is not nearby). Please remember, even when these remedies have been applied, a visit to your veterinarian to make sure everything is fine is still important.
The best treatment for dog heat stroke is prevention. Taking preventative measures will not only save your dog’s life; it will also help save you money (a visit to the vet is rarely inexpensive). Prevention is also relatively easy. As the hotter days start to approach, start preparing your dog to the hotter weather. Take him/her into the sun for a half hour or so and do some light playing. This way when you head out for longer summertime adventures, Fido will be acclimated to the heat. Always make sure that you have water readily available—this is an absolute necessity. When the sun is out, both you and your dog should take regular breaks in the shade. You both need to cool down and regulate your body temperature. If you are feeling like you are getting too hot, your dog is too. Heat stroke is, of course, as much a problem for humans as it is for dogs.
Finally, never leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day. Year after year people ignore this advice, and year after year dogs die needlessly after being left in hot cars. Under no circumstances should you subject your pet to this kind of treatment. You may think that you will only be a minute, but life happens. Underestimating the amount of time something will take can have fatal consequences for your dog. When it comes to your dog’s health, this is not a risk you should be running.
Here are the signs and symptoms of dog heat stroke:
- Excessive panting (dogs don’t sweat like humans, so panting is how dogs regulates their temperature).
- Excessive salivation
- Blueish-purple or bright red gums
- Weakness, trouble standing (wobbliness, difficulty walking)
- Bloody diarrhea
If you notice any of these symptoms, there are a few things you should do:
- The first thing you should do is seek medical attention.
- Try and get your dog to lie on a cool surface.
- Take and record rectal temperature. (38.2-39.2 Celsius, 101-102.5 Fahrenheit)
- Place cool, wet towels over the back of your dog’s neck, armpits and groin area.
What not to do:
- Do not take the “Let’s wait and see” approach.
- Do not pour ice-cold water over the dogs head! This will cause the blood vessels to constrict rapidly (which will only cause further damage).
- Do not overcool your dog. Once the rectal temperature comes back to normal, stop the cooling process and take the dog to the vet.
- Do not leave your dog unattended.
Now that your know how to prevent and, when necessary, treat heat stroke, you and your dog can go out and have some fun in the sun. Remember, when it comes to your dog’s health, the veterinarian is your furry pal’s best friend.