Heat stroke is a serious concern for dogs. When their body temperature rises from the normal 101.5 degrees to roughly 104 or 105, they lose the ability to regulate their internal temperature, which can cause organ damage, or even death.
Dogs aren’t very efficient at self-cooling because:
- They don’t sweat like humans – their main cooling method is panting. Dogs with short snouts, such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Shih Tzus, and so on, are even more susceptible to overheating because they can’t pant as much as dogs with longer snouts.
- They wear fur coats year round – while their coats actually do a little to promote cooling by trapping a bit of cool air close to the skin, it only works for so long.
- They can’t open windows, turn on fans, or fill their own water bowls.
Preventing heat stroke is therefore crucial to your dog’s health. Here are some things you can do:
- If your dog is indoors for most of the day and you have air conditioning, that’s really helpful. If you don’t, keep some fans running to help cool him down.
- If your dog spends most of his time outdoors, make sure you provide plenty of shade, and encourage rest in shady areas by putting his food and water bowls there. You can also use an outdoor fan; make sure you keep the cords out of his reach.
- Some dogs enjoy a plastic kiddie pool full of water placed in the shade.
- If you have a swimming pool, please remember that dogs can’t climb ladders. If you want your dog to have access to the pool, be sure to train him to use the steps or swim-out; otherwise, make sure your dog can’t get into the pool when you’re not there to help him out.
- There must be a constant source of fresh water for your dog, and if possible, tossing a few ice cubes in it every now and then makes it even more refreshing.
Practice safe exercise
- Restrict walks and rigorous playtime to short sessions in the early morning or late evening, and stop for frequent water breaks. You could even bring along a misting bottle so you can spray him off every now and then.
- When you return home, you can hose your dog down if he likes that, but remember to run the water first, since any water sitting in the hose will be hot!
Leave your dog at home
- Never ever, ever leave your dog in the car. Not on cooler days, not in the shade, not with the windows open. If you are stopping anywhere that you can’t bring your dog, leave him at home.
Heat stroke in dogs is a very serious issue, and preventing it is far better than treating it. Enjoy your summer, but take precautions so your dog can stay safe and enjoy it too.
Dogs who are overheating to a dangerous degree may show signs like:
- Excessive panting
- Pale gums
- Racing heart
- Drooling with thick, rope-like saliva
What to do:
- Immediately move your dog to a cooler area, preferably a cool room in an air conditioned building. If that is not an option, move him in front of a fan or to a shady area.
- Wet him down with cool, but not ice cold, water, either by using a hose or placing him in a tub. Saturate his footpads with rubbing alcohol.
- Call your veterinarian. If possible, check his temperature with a rectal thermometer and report the temperature to your veterinarian. You may have to wait until he cools to 102-103 degrees before moving him. When it’s time, put wet towels on him and take him to your veterinarian.
Even if your dog looks okay, your dog should see the veterinarian to make sure there is no organ damage.
If you think your pet is experiencing heat stroke contact Meadowlands Veterinary Hospital at 201-646-2008 or visit us at www.meadowlandsvethospital.com