With the hot weather finally here, it becomes important to be careful that not only you but also your dog, don’t get too much of a good thing. Heat stroke can happen to both people and animals although it is more common in dogs because they have fewer mechanisms for sweating and reducing the body temperature.
Dogs only sweat through their pads and they don’t do very much sweating that way. Instead, they rely mainly on panting to bring cooler air into the body and maintain body temperature. When the air gets really warm, that mechanism isn’t nearly as efficient. When you combine that with activities that naturally heat the body up, it can be a deadly combination.
Common signs of heat stroke include:
Drooling – often thick
Bright red gums and tongue
If it isn’t treated right away, your dog may suffer seizures, coma and even death. Start by moving your dog into a cooler environment – air conditioned areas are ideal if available. Place him in a tub of cool, but not icy, water. You can also apply ice packs to the groin area. You need to bring his body temperature down but if you bring it down too quickly, he will go into shock. Wipe his head down with cold, wet cloths and encourage him to drink cool water. Take his temperature regularly at ten minute intervals. Over 104 F is too hot. Once it drops below that, you can dry him off and slow the cooling process. You should take him to a veterinarian immediately as there are some complications that can ensue after heat stroke.
The best course is to avoid it altogether. On hot days, if your pet is outside, make sure he has access to lots of cool water and shade. Try putting ice cubes into his water bucket periodically to keep it cool and refreshing. You can also feed him straight ice cubes or chunks of frozen fruit and vegetables such as apples, melon, and baby carrots to give him a cool treat. For a special treat, freeze yogurt into cubes using an ice cube tray. You can also put a child’s plastic pool out and fill it with water so he can climb in to cool off. If your dog can stay inside in the air conditioning, that is the best option.
Never leave your dog in a car in hot weather as the temperature in a vehicle can climb very rapidly. Although company is always fun, it is better to leave your pet at home on hot days. Avoid exercising in the hottest parts of the day – aim for early morning and the evenings when things have begun to cool off a bit. Also be aware of hot asphalt, your dog doesn’t wear shoes and can burn his pads on the asphalt. Try to walk him in areas where he can stay on the grass. Enjoy the weather but keep yourself and your dog safe too!