This summer has been unusually hot. Dogs can’t sweat through their fur like we sweat through shirts, so it’s up to you to help your dog survive the heat wave.
Can’t Dogs Handle The Outdoors?
Dogs only have two ways to release heat: by panting and by releasing heat from their paws. That’s it. As summer wears on, it’s critical that you keep your dog cool. If they get too hot and can’t release heat fast enough, heat stroke strikes.
Heat stroke occurs when a dog cannot cool itself off. This leads to their body overheating, which is fatal if not caught and treated quickly enough.
Heat Stroke Symptoms
Signs of canine heat stroke include:
- High temperature – normal is around 101 degrees, extreme is 105 or above.
- Heavy panting – especially if the dog’s tongue is hanging out more than usual.
- Drooling or foaming – dehydrated dogs will have thicker saliva than normal.
- Dark red gums – healthy gums should be a bright pink.
- Dizziness or disorientation – dog may be unable to walk normally or even stand up.
- Diarrhea and/or vomiting – sign of dehydration.
If you see a dog showing these symptoms, you don’t have a minute to lose.
What To Do If A Dog Has Heat Stroke
Once a dog shows symptoms of heat stroke, time is of the essence. The dog’s body is so hot that it’s actually starting to break down internally. If you see a dog in this condition, here’s how you can help.
- Get the dog out of the heat and into a cool area immediately.
- Pour cool water on the dog. Cool water will help cool the dog thanks to blood vessels close to the skin. Do not use ice water: water that’s too cold will cause the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow. Don’t lay wet towels on the dog either, as they won’t allow the water to evaporate which reduces the cooling effect.
- Offer the dog water. If the dog doesn’t seem interested, don’t force him to drink it.
- Call a vet. A vet clinic can help the dog rehydrate quickly with intravenous fluids. They can also provide oxygen and any other emergency care the dog needs.
How To Keep Your Dog Safe From Heat
Prevention is much easier than treatment. There’s no reason why a dog should suffer from heat stroke. Keep the following in mind to protect your dog:
- NEVER leave a dog in a hot car, even for a few minutes or if the windows are cracked.
- Leave your dog at home unless he absolutely has to go with you.
- Always give your dog access to a cool, shaded area and plenty of fresh water.
- Know if your dog is at higher risk of heat stroke. Dogs that are overweight, recovering from surgery or sickness, or have short snouts like Mastiffs or Bulldogs are at most risk.
- Don’t encourage exercise when it’s too hot. Many dogs will continue past the point of safety in an attempt to please their owners. Get physical activity during the cooler parts of the day – early morning or after the sun goes down.
Summer heat can be disastrous for dogs, but not if you take the right steps. Follow the tips above to prevent heat-related illness and your dog will get through the dog days of summer just fine.
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