It already feels like summer in the northeast even though we're two weeks away from it's official start. That means more outdoor fun time with our furry friends. It can also mean an increased chance of heat stroke. Even if you are comfortable, your dog may not be. Dogs overheat more quickly than humans do. They dont' sweat like we do. They cool their bodies by panting, or blowing out heat, which is much less effective than sweating. If the environment is too hot, panting becomes completely ineffective. Certain breeds are more susceptible to heat stroke - working breed dogs who may be used to vigourous exercise (retrievers, spaniels, etc.), overweight dogs, dogs with airway, heart or lung diseases, and dogs with shortened faces (pugs, bull dogs, shi tzus).
Do you know what to look for? Do you know what to do if this happens to your dog?
What to look for: heavy panting, glazed eyes, excessive thrist, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, elevated heart rate, diarrhea, and unconsciousness.
What to do:
- Move your dog into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
- Apply ice packs, cold towels, bags of fozen vegetables (whatever you have) to their head, neck and chest area.
- Run cool (not cold) water over them if possible. The best thing is if you can get them into a bath tub and let it fill with cool water, making sure you keep their head elevated.
- Let them drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. Mixing a small amount of salt into the water will help to replace the minerals lost through panting.
- Massage their legs. This helps the dogs circulation and reduces the risk of shock.
- Call your veterinarian. It is likely they will recommend that you bring your dog in because heat stroke can cause internal issues such as shock, kidney failure, cardiac abnormalities, respiratory stress and blood clotting times.
Prevention is key (and easy)! Avoid exercise on extremely hot days. When you are outside, make sure your dog has access to shade and plenty of water. Clip heavy coated dogs. Use a wire crate instead of a plastic crate. Perhaps most imporant though is NEVER leave your dog in a parked car. Not even for a few minutes. This is the single most frequent cause of heat stroke in dogs. Did you know that on an 80 degree day, the temperature inside your car can reach 120 degrees in as little as 10 minutes?? We know how much our four legged friends love car rides, but it really is better to leave them at home on these warm summer (and spring and fall) days.
We hope this helps you have a safe and FUN summer! WOOF!
- Your friends at Hedgesville Hounds