Summer has arrived, and before anything happens we want you to be reminded. A most dangerous condition is heat stroke. Make no mistake, heat stroke can be fatal. The shortest interval between exposure to high heat extremes and death is about 20 minutes.
All mammals can suffer from heat related illness that include heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Don’t let your dog become a statistic by being one of the many that will suffer from heat related illnesses. With common sense and proper precaution, a tragedy by falling victim to heat related illness can be avoided.
A high body temperature measured rectally of 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit can cause lethargy, weakness, collapse or coma. Body temperatures over 107 Fahrenheit are a critical emergency. Organ damage occurs at this temperature and most dogs won’t drink water at this stage of heat stroke. It isn’t a good idea to spend time trying to get them to. At the first signs of serious heat distress, cool the dog immediately with cool or tepid water but not really cold water. If ice packs are available, apply to areas where circulation is very good, such as the “armpits”, stomach or neck. Blowing air over the dog with a fan as you cool it off with water can be helpful but it is most important to go quickly to the veterinarian.
Most people don’t carry around thermometers. However, the physical signs of heat stroke in dogs are usually enough to go by.
- Hyperventilation (deep breathing)
- Salivation early then dry gums as heat prostration sets in
- Anxious expression
- Refusal to obey commands
- Warm, dry skin
- High fever
- Rapid heartbeat
- Diarrhea and sometimes bleeding
- Body collapse
High body temperatures develop from increased activity without rapid enough ability to dissipate and give off heat due to high heat and humidity or respiratory obstruction. Brachiocephalic (pug-nosed) dogs, overweight dogs, very young dogs and older dogs are most at risk.
- To the best of your ability, keep pets indoors in a comfortable environment during extreme weather conditions.
- Keep pets in well-ventilated areas.
- Give your pet plenty of fresh cool water, and leave water in cool or shady areas.
- Be sure that puppies and kittens drink adequate amounts.
- Heat-related illness often occurs in the spring when your pet is not yet used to the new warmer temperatures; allow your pet to acclimate especially when traveling to a hotter climate.
- Limit sun exposure during the peak mid-day heat hours.
- Minimize exercise in hot weather.
- Exercise in early morning or late in the evening (the coolest times of the day).
Don’t leave your pet in a car for any reason at any time – ever! If your dog can’t come with you when you leave the car, leave the dog home. The car can become a death trap on a mild sunny day, and temperature can insidiously rise to well above 120 degrees. On a hot day, a car can heat up to 160 degrees in minutes!
If you haven’t seen some of the innovative solutions to the serious problem of heat dangers, take a look and you might want to avail your pet of modern thermoregulating technology, cooling jackets and cooling pet beds.