Tis the season for warmer weather which brings a host of problems to our pets! As dog walkers and pet sitters, we are responsible for your pet in all types of weather. One of my main concerns in the warmer months for your dog is heat stroke.
What is heatstroke?
Heatstroke occurs when your dog loses its natural ability to regulate their own body temperature. Did you know that dogs do not sweat? That’s right! A dogs body temperature is regulated through panting or respirations (through their mouth). If the dogs respiratory tract cannot move the heat quickly enough, heatstroke can occur.
A dogs normal resting body temperature should be between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If you dogs temperature rises above the 105 degree mark, physiological changes will start to take place and the dog will begin to experience the effects of a heatstroke. If your dogs temperature rises to 106 to 108, irreversible damage to the kidneys, liver, heart and brain take place.
Signs of heatstroke:
Excessive panting; hyperventilation; dry gums that become pale, grayish and tacky; rapid or erratic pulse; confusion; weakness; increased salivation; inattention; diarrhea; vomiting and possible rectal bleeding. If the dog continues to overheat, breathing will become more labored or even absent and finally, seizures, coma and even death can occur.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG INSIDE YOUR VEHICLE!
THE TEMPERATURE QUICKLY RISES EVEN WITH THE WINDOWS DOWN.
What to do:
- Recognize the symptoms of heatstroke and respond quickly to them!
- Move into the shade immediately! Get out of the direct sunlight and apply cool water to the inner thighs and stomach of the dog. A high concentration of blood vessels are found in this area. If you are able, apply cool water to the pads of the dogs feet as well.
- If you are near running water, the best way to cool the dog down is to wet your dog’s body down. DO NOT SUBMERGE YOUR DOG IN A POOL OR TUB. You can cool the dog too rapidly which leads to a host of other issues.
- Cool water, not cold water! The goal is always to cool the dog down slowly.
- Do not cover your dog. You could create a sauna effect which inhibits the ability for evaporation. Your dog must have air flow. This mean you do not want to wet your dog down and then place them in a kennel or crate. If you are able to move the dog to an air conditioned vehicle, that is a good scenario.
- Movement. It is best to keep your dog moving. Encourage them to stand or walk slowly as the cooling process is happening. This will help the blood to keep circulating as opposed to pooling in certain areas.
- Finally, allow the dog to drink small amounts of water, controlled by you of course. Cooling your dog is top priority and then hydration. A follow up at the vet should be in order should your dog experience a heat stroke.
Remember, prevention is key!!