Beating the Heat

Beating the Heat

Article by Gavin Miller

Heatstroke in Dogs

With summer now in full swing, the temperature has risen and people want to spend more time outdoors with their dog. This combination of high temperatures and increased activity leads to the concerning problem of heatstroke or heat exhaustion. Heatstroke can impact dogs in a wide variety of ways, from mild heatstroke to organ failure. If the correct steps are taken, heatstroke can be prevented or, if it becomes necessary, treated safely and correctly.

Symptoms

There are many symptoms of heatstroke, but the eight below are some of the easiest to detect. Please pay extra close attention to your dog if he/she is acting sick, tired, or different than usual. If you are in any doubt, call your vet. It's very important that you know the signs and take action immediately to keep your dog healthy and safe.

  • Excessive panting and/or difficulty breathing 
  • A hot and dry nose, as opposed to a moist, cool one, can signal that your dog is dehydrated and could possibly have a fever
  • A lot of drool or a change in the consistency and/or color of drool 
  • Change in the frequency of urination or a lack of urination
  • Abnormally soft or bloody stool is a big warning sign for heatstroke
  • Shaking regardless of the outside temperature
  • Lethargic behavior, such as taking more naps than usual or difficulty standing after waking
  • Trouble walking in straight lines or trouble staying upright

Treatment

If your dog shows any of the above symptoms, act immediately. If you don’t treat it, heat stroke can become more serious and possibly fatal. Please use these tips and tricks to help your dog with heatstroke.

  • Take your dog indoors or to a cool area as soon as possible.
  • Use cool, not cold, water to help your dog cool down. If the water is too cold, it can do more harm than good to the dog because their body temperature will change too rapidly. Use cool water for dogs and lukewarm water for puppies.
  • Thoroughly apply water on the paws and ears to help with a fever.
  • Use a fan to help your dog cool off.
  • Use a thermometer to check your dog's temperature. Plastic thermometers are preferred because glass ones may break. Once it reads 103 degrees Fahrenheit, stop wetting your dog and turn off the fan.
  • Call a vet. Although it seems like your dog may have recovered, there is a possibility that he/she is suffering from complications due to heatstroke
  • Go to a veterinary hospital immediately if your dog is vomiting, having seizures, or seems very ill. 

Prevention

Heatstroke is a very serious problem, but thankfully it’s preventable. If you use the tips below, you can help to prevent heatstroke in your dog before it happens.

  • Never leave your dog in a car. The temperature can quickly reach over 100 degrees even when you leave the windows open.
  • Monitor the time your dog spends outside. If it gets very hot outside, bring them inside to cool off.
  • Avoid midday outdoor activities. The peak temperature usually comes around midday, so try to plan your walks and other outdoor activities for the morning or evening, when it's cooler outside.
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