Heat Stroke: How It Happens, What to Do
Summertime is so much fun for all of us and our four legged friends. Unfortunately, there is an increased risk when it comes to dehydration and getting overheated. Dogs cool themselves by panting, and they do not have many sweat glands on their body. Their body is also covered in a layer of hair that is insulating in the winter but can trap heat in the summer. Here are some important facts to consider as you and your dog enjoy all that the summer has to offer:
Breeds that are at high risk for developing heat stroke:
- Breeds with thick coats: great pyrenees, huskies, etc
- Breeds with shortened faces: bulldogs, shitzus, etc
These high risk breeds should be monitored closely in the summer. They have a lot of trouble cooling off in very humid and hot environments. Those situations should be avoided if you have one of these breeds.
High risk situations for dogs developing heat stroke:
- Leaving dogs outside without shade or water: Shade will most of the time provide adequate shelter from the sun, but remember if the ambient temperature is high, dogs can only cool through panting. Therefore, they can overheat in the shade if is really hot and humid outside.
- Leaving dogs in the car: Sometimes even with cracked windows and water, the car gets too hot for dogs. Please leave your AC on if you leave your dog in the car.
- Walking on pavement: Pavement radiates heat. It is not uncommon for dogs to get overheated on pavement. Also, their foot pads can get burned. Be sure to purchase little booties if the dog is going to be on gravel or hot pavement.
- Rectal Temperature at or above 103*F
- Non-responsive and laying on his or her side
What to do if your dog appears to be suffering from heat stroke:
- Wet down body in bathtub or with a garden hose
- Apply cold packs or frozen vegetables to the dogs head
- Massage legs to encourage circulation
- Give the dog cool water if it is able to drink
- Check temperature every five minutes (Make sure it is decreasing)
- Call a veterinarian. Heat stroke can cause swelling of the brain, kidney issues, and abnormal blood clotting. A veterinarian is needed to assess your dog and administer the appropriate treatments.
Heat stroke is one of the most serious emergency diagnoses that veterinarians make in the summer. Dogs suffering from heat stroke oftentimes have to stay in the hospital and receive IV fluids and other treatments. It is so tragic because it is a preventable problem. Please be mindful of your dogs when hiking, doing errands, playing outside, or leaving for work. Make sure that they are safe and having a good time too. If you have any questions about your pets safety in a situation, please call one of our offices. We would be happy to help!