If you have pet dogs, you know how much they love the sun. Dogs will curl up on the deck, or even in the car, and get as close to it as possible, especially on a hot day. The summer months allow pet owners or “fur parents“, such as you, to relax and spend time outside with your pet dogs. The hot summer months may also be unbearable, if not potentially fatal not just for people but even dogs. It is already challenging to deal with increasing outside temperatures, particularly in an overwhelming humid environment, yet conditions grow even more complicated in communities slammed with the combined whammy of scorching temperatures and typhoon-caused blackouts of electricity, from time to time with catastrophic consequences. However, unlike humans, dogs do not have a reliable method of activating their sweat glands and regulating their body temperatures. Dogs’ paw pads are extremely sensitive and these become susceptible to high temperatures.
Heat stroke in dogs is a very serious, life-threatening condition. It is typically fatal and calls for hospitalization because this may cause permanent organ damage or organ failure such as kidney failure.
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What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke occurs when your dog’s body temperature rises above 41°C which is above the normal range. This can happen when they are outside in the hot weather or have an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, and they experience a rise in temperature that causes them to suffer from overly heat exhaustion.
What causes heat stroke?
Exposure to excess heat
Heat stroke is caused by an excess of body heat and is typically caused by a sudden rise in temperature or exposure to high temperatures with inadequate ventilation. Dogs that have been left out in the sun with a hot environment for too long are at risk of heat stroke.
Extreme physical activity in high temperatures
Strenuous exercise in a hot environment is the most prevalent cause of heat stroke. Dogs who are tired from their physical activity may not be able to cool down on their own, and they might quickly get dehydrated.
Pre-existing health conditions
If you have elderly dogs who have not been given their medicine, brachycephalic breeds (flat-faced), and obese dogs, you have to know that they have a higher risk of potentially developing heat stroke when they are exposed to an environment with a high temperature.
What are the warning signs and symptoms of heat stroke in dogs?
You may assume your dog has a simple excessive panting or lying down with their tongue hanging out, but this might be a symptom of heat stroke! Be aware of these heat stroke signs and symptoms in your pet dog:
- Excessive panting
- Breathing problems
- Red gums
- Excessive drooling, salivating
- Unintentional vomiting
- Lethargy or almost complete inaction (your dog may be able to sit down but not stand up)
- Hyperthermia (above 39.4°C dog’s rectal temperature)
If your dog has any of these symptoms and you suspect heat stroke, it is time to act fast to prevent heat stroke.
How to do emergency first aid treatment for heat stroke in dogs?
- Move your dog away from the hot environment immediately and place your dog in a shaded and cool area with good ventilation. If possible, let your dog cool down using a fan or an air conditioner.
- Pour cool water around the dog right away in order to prevent distress and further body heat from excess heat exhaustion. Never submerge your dog fully in ice-cold water. Lukewarm water has been proven to be the most efficient for cooling dogs suffering from heat exhaustion. In a real emergency situation, whatever water is available is preferable to none.
- Wet towels placed over the dog might aggravate the situation by evaporative cooling. Towels can be placed beneath the dog in moderate situations, but never over it, and in a serious emergency, water immersion or flowing water with air circulation is excellent in dealing with heat exhaustion.
- Pour cool water around the dog up until their breathing settles, but not so much that they begin trembling. You may provide your dog with small amounts of water to be consumed frequently.
- If your dog lost their consciousness, your dog is likely to cease panting, notwithstanding the fact that they still have an extremely elevated body temperature from heat exhaustion. Hence, your dog will demand immediate and quick cooling as a top concern to deal with heat exhaustion.
- When treating heat stroke, refrain from placing water close to or on your dog’s head since there is an increased risk of the dog breathing in water and dying from drowning. This is particular among unconscious dogs and those with flat faces such as French bulldogs.
- When you observe that your dog has cooled down, contact your local vet or bring your dog to the closest veterinary hospital to have your dog treated immediately.
How to avoid heat stroke in dogs during the summer months?
- The best way to prevent heat stroke is to keep your dogs cool. You can do this by applying cool water to their feet and chest as often as possible, as well as wrapping them in wet towels or sponges.
- It is important to make sure your dogs are drinking water frequently to prevent heat exhaustion. This means giving them two cups of cool water every fifteen minutes for at least two hours and then refilling the bowl with fresh cold water.
- You should also keep an eye on how much exercise your dogs get during the day and make sure they are not overdoing it. If your dogs are walking for too long or exercising too hard, they could become dehydrated and their body temperature may rise. If your dogs have been running or exercising in warm weather, allow them to rest in the shade for several hours until they are no longer suffering from heat exhaustion.
- Do not leave your dog in your parked car unsupervised for any length of time. Despite leaving the windows half open, your pet’s body temperature rises up to 40°C in a couple of minutes when they are inside hot cars. Heatstroke or suffocation can cause brain damage or death in your fur baby.
How to prevent dog heat stroke if they are alone at home?
If your dogs are alone at home, and they are in an enclosed space, like a crate or a room with no windows, then there is not much you can do to regulate heat exhaustion. But do not panic! There are still things you can do to help your dogs stay cool while they are alone:
- First, make sure that your dog has access to clean water and food. If possible, give them some water to drink and feed them something that will keep them hydrated, such as wet dog food. If you do not have time to give them water or food right away, make sure that their water bowl has plenty of fresh cold water in it so that they can get some before it gets too warm outside or inside.
- Next up is keeping the temperature inside your home low in general. On hot days, refrain from leaving your pet unattended outdoors. Place your pet inside your home with air conditioning or good ventilation while you are gone. If this is not feasible, make sure that your dog is able to get to a secured, shaded outside space.
- Lastly, you may also use a cooling body wrap, rug, or mat to help keep your dog cool inside. Immerse these items in cold water for a minimum of three days to keep your dogs cool and dry even when they are alone.
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