The dog days of summer are no joke! During the summer months, we love to be outside with our friends and family, but we must remember that there are pet hazards associated with the heat of the summer.
Pet parents, it's important to remember that like us, pets can suffer from heatstroke.Imagine wearing a fur coat in 90+ temperatures. Dogs can't cool themselves like we can. They sweat through the pads in their feet, and they pant. To avoid heatstroke, make sure that you know the symptoms. They include:
Increased heart rate. For most adult dogs, the normal heart rate is between 60-100 beats per minute, with smaller dogs being slightly higher. It's important to know your dogs resting heart rate, as it can vary greatly form breed to breed.
Excessive panting or difficulty breathing. Remember that certain breeds like bulldogs and pugs have breathing issues already and can't pant as effectively. Be extremely cautious with these breeds
High body temperature. A normal temperature runs between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees. Anything over 104 is dangerous and over 106 constitutes a dire emergency. Gauging body temperature by the moistness of the nose or how warm the ears feel is not reliable.
Dark red gums and dry and tacky mucus membranes.
If you have even the slightest suspicion that your dog is suffering from heat stoke, you must take immediate action.
- First, move your dog out of the heat and away from the sun right away.
- Begin cooling your dog with cool water. You may place wet rags or washcloths on the foot pads and around the head, but replace them frequently as they warm up. Avoid covering the body with wet towels, as it may trap in heat.
- DO NOT use ice or ice water! Extreme cold can cause the blood vessels to constrict, preventing the body's core from cooling and actually causing the internal temperature to further rise. In addition, over-cooling can cause hypothermia, introducing a host of new problems. When the body temperature reaches 103.9°F, stop cooling. At this point, your dog's body should continue cooling on its own.
- Offer your dog cool water, but do not force water into your dog's mouth. Try not to let your dog drink excessive amounts at a time.
- Call or visit your vet right away - even if your dog seems better. Internal damage might not be obvious to the naked eye, so an exam is necessary (and further testing may be recommended).
There are ways you can prevent heat stroke from happening in the first place.
- NEVER leave your dog alone in the car on a warm day, regardless of whether the windows are open. Even if the weather outside is not extremely hot, the inside of the car acts like an oven - temperatures can rise to dangerously high levels in a matter of minutes.
- Avoid vigorous exercise on warm days. When outside, opt for shady areas.
- Keep fresh cool water available at all times.
- Certain types of dogs are more sensitive to heat - especially obese dogs and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, like pugs and bulldogs. Use extreme caution when these dogs are exposed to heat.
Some dogs can recover fully from heat stroke if it is caught early enough. Others suffer permanent organ damage and require lifelong treatment. Sadly, many dogs do not survive heat stroke. Prevention is the key to keeping your dog safe during warmer weather..