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Heat stress in dogs

Heat stress is one of the biggest PREVENTABLE killers of animals. Dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans – they release heat primarily by panting and also sweat through the foot pads and nose. If a dog cannot effectively expel heat, the internal body temperature begins to rise. Once the dog’s temperature reaches 41°, damage to the body’s cellular system and organs may become irreversible. Unfortunately, too many dogs succumb to heat stroke when it could have been avoided.

Signs of Heat Stroke

  • Increased rectal temperature (over 40° requires action, over 41° is an emergency)
  • Vigorous panting
  • Dark red gums
  • Dry mucous membranes (specifically the gums)
  • Lying down/unable to get up
  • Collapse and/or loss of consciousness
  • Thick saliva
  • Dizziness or disorientation

Preventing Heat Stroke

The saddest thing about heat stroke is that it is PREVENTABLE. Read below to see how to keep your dog safe

  • 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, choose cool, shaded 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.


What to do if You Suspect Heat Stroke

If you have even the slightest suspicion that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you must take immediate action.

  • First, move your dog out of the heat and away from the sun right away.
  • Begin cooling your dog by placing cool, wet rags or washcloths on the body – especially the foot pads and around the head.
  • DO NOT use ice or cold 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 39.5°, stop cooling.
  • Offer your dog cool water, but do not force water into your dog’s mouth.
  • Call or visit your vet right away – even if your dog seems better. Internal damage might not be obvious to the untrained eye, so an exam is necessary to ensure your dog isn’t internal affected

TIP: Unsure if the concrete/road is too hot for your dog to walk on? Place the back of your hand on the ground firmly for 30 seconds. If it is too hot to hold your hand on the concrete, wait for cooler weather to walk your pooch 

Thanks to our friends over at Animal Emergency Service for the great info!

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