Summertime offers more opportunity for you and your dog to enjoy seasonal outdoor activities. But it’s also critically essential that you be aware of the impact that hot temperatures can have on a dog’s health.
All dog breeds are particularly prone to heat-related illnesses during the summer, but dogs with compromised health are at an even greater risk.
Heat-related deaths are entirely preventable if a dog owner uses common sense and knows the warning signs of hyperthermia, otherwise known as heatstroke. Losing a pet is difficult and traumatic enough, but losing a pet due to circumstances that could have been avoided is a situation most dog owners find unforgivable.
KEY SIGNS OF HEATSTROKE IN DOGS?
There are multiple signs to look for if your dog is suffering from hypothermia. Amy of the following symptoms are cause for careful observation and, in some cases, immediate medical attention:
- Glazed eyes
- Excessive thirst
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Vomiting and bloody diarrhea
- Increased heartbeat and pulse
- Bright red or dark red gums and tongue
- Staggering, weakness, or collapse
- Elevated body temperature (104 degrees or higher)
Heatstroke can occur in a very short period, causing severe damage to the brain, liver, kidney, heart, and nervous system. Once a dog’s body temperature hits 109 degrees or higher, cells begin to die, and dehydration causes irreversible kidney damage. The lack of blood to the gastrointestinal tract causes ulcers, and the brain swells resulting in seizures.
This damage happens in a matter of moments. At first, you might not notice anything out of the ordinary in your dog on a hot day when she is panting more than usual. Taking your dog’s temperature at this point is vital to understand if she is just warm from heat and exertion, or if she is beginning to go into heatstroke.
Unfortunately, if you don’t take precautions in hot weather, by the time you see clear symptoms of heatstroke, it is likely too late to save your dog.
HOW TO PREVENT HEATSTROKE IN YOUR DOG
The best way to prevent heatstroke from happening is to take every step necessary to keep your dog from becoming overheated. Keep her cool and safe from heatstroke by following these steps:
- Limit play sessions and exercise; don’t overdo it. It doesn’t matter the time of day. If it’s hot outside, morning or evening, don’t let your dog become overexerted.
- Exercise in the very early morning or evening after the sun has gone down. Try to remain in the shade as much as possible, and avoid going outdoors altogether if it’s over 90 degrees. If you must exercise your dog, do so during the coolest hours of the day.
- Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Dogs can become rapidly dehydrated in hot weather, so make sure you have water with you or access to water if you have your dog outside.
- Use backyard tools to keep canine companions cool. Spray your dog down with a backyard hose or let her play in the sprinkler to cool off.
Give your dog a shorter haircut. This step is especially helpful for long-haired breeds, but make sure to not cut the hair down to more than a one-inch cut. Your dog’s fur protects her skin from the sun, so don’t take her natural sun protection away from her.
If trimming your dog’s coat is not an option, at least make sure to bathe and brush her regularly as this will help prevent some heat-related problems.
- Don’t walk a dog on hot pavement. Hot pavement and sidewalks can hurt a dog’s paws, but even more deadly, the heat rising from the surface will quickly cause a dog to overheat.
- Don’t ever leave a dog in a parked car on a hot day. It only takes 10 minutes on an 85 degree day for the air inside a parked car to reach 102 degrees, and 120 degrees within 30 minutes. Leaving the windows open a crack does nothing to impact these temperatures.
You may think you’ll only be a couple of minutes in the store, but even a couple of minutes is too hot for a dog. You will condemn your dog to die in a painful, cruel manner.
Heatstroke is a terrible fate for a dog to face, and it is entirely preventable on your part.
Use common sense and keep a watchful eye when you are in hot temperatures this summer. Do everything you can to keep your pup safe from hot temperatures, and both of you will have many more summers to spend together.
*This is a special guest post by Alexandra Seagal, editor for Animalso.com