Dr. Justine Lee has some tips to help you pooch avoid heat stroke. For more from Dr. Lee, find her on Facebook!
Earlier this week, we talked about the dangers of heat stroke in dogs, including the 3 most common causes of heatstroke in dogs. Today, we’ll focus on what signs to look for and more importantly, how to prevent it!
Regardless of what the temperature or humidity is, always monitor your dog carefully for signs of fatigue or heat stroke. The sooner you notice these signs, the sooner you should stop any form of exercise, cool down your dog, and seek veterinary attention.
Signs of heat stroke include:
- Constant panting
- Dragging behind (e.g., in other words, on a leash lagging several feet behind you)
- Dry gums that feel sticky to the touch
- Dark red gums
- Acting wobbly or walking drunk
- An elevated heart rate
- Feeling warm to the touch, with red, flushed skin
- Dark, concentrated urine
The longer heat stroke progresses, the more deadly to your pet. Other life-threatening signs to look for as heat stroke progresses include:
- Seizures or tremors
- Dark red-wine colored urine
- Bloody or black, tarry diarrhea
- Difficulty breathing
- A racing heart rate (due to arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms)
If you notice any of these signs, stop immediately and do the following:
- Call someone who can get their car and bring you to a veterinarian immediately
- Get your dog into the shade or to a water source so you can cool him down (e.g., ask a random person walking by if they have water and dump it on your dog’s head to cool him down).
Unfortunately, even with aggressive supportive care and treatment by your veterinarian, heat stroke can be fatal. The problem is that the heat destroys the cells in the body, resulting in
havoc. Even with aggressive IV fluids, plasma transfusions, antibiotics, cooling measures, anti-vomiting medication, anti-vomiting medication, anti-seizure medication, oxygen therapy, and 24 hour, continuous critical care monitoring, organ failure can still occur.
As treatment for heat stroke is expensive to you and costly to your pet, keep in mind that prevention is key when it comes to avoiding heat stroke.
Some preventative tips on avoiding heat stroke include the following:
- First, always check with your veterinarian to see if your dog is healthy enough – or a breed that is safe - to exercise with you.
- Avoid exercising in the midday sun, which ranges from 10 am – 3 pm. Remember, the head index is very high during this point.
- If possible, make sure to exercise in shade.
- If you’re near a body of water (e.g., water fountain, lake, stream, etc.), take the time to cool your dog down and allow him or her access to a drink while out.
- If you’re not near a water source, make sure to carry a water bottle or Camelback for your dog. If you’re running out for both of you, save that water you’re your four-legged friend instead!
- For you rollerbladers, keep in mind that your dog has to pace at a much faster rate than your walk or jog, so take it easy.
- Prevent your dog from becoming overweight to obese, as this predisposes your pet to overheating.
The easiest hint? When in doubt, STOP. It’s not worth losing your four-legged friend to heat stroke for you to keep in shape!
Dr. Justine Lee
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Heat Exhaustion in Dogs: Signs Your Dog Is Overheating
Overheating in dogs is not something to take lightly. As the weather heats up, it's important to remain aware of how the heat affects your pup. Heat exhaustion in dogs can lead to serious and potentially fatal conditions such as heat stroke and cardiac arrest. To help keep your dog safe and cool during the summer, here is the lowdown on signs that he's overheating and how to prevent it: hint, a little water does wonders for keeping your pup cool.
Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer
With predictions that summer 2017 will be a scorcher in the UK, dog parents need to be clued up on how to manage high temperatures.
It is always well documented, but in no circumstances should a dog be left in a car in hot weather. Despite the mass media attention this usually gets, there are often still tragic tales of victims, so don't take any chances this summer. Also consider other environments, like conservatories and greenhouses, that can also be stifling in heat. They can be just as much of a hazard to your pet's health and it is best to keep your dog out of these spaces.
Avoid peak times and hot surfaces
If it is a really sunny day, it is not advisable to walk or run with your dog in peak sunshine. This is usually between 11am - 4pm. Heat stroke can be very serious and avoiding the height of sunshine decreases the chance of your dog being affected. Beware of the symptoms - they include anxiety, excessive panting, and in severe cases of heat-stroke, collapse and convulsions. If you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke, remove them from the hot environment and seek veterinary attention immediately. Be aware of very hot surfaces that could harm your dog's paws such as hot asphalt. A good trick is to test it yourself by laying the back side of your hand on it for five seconds to make a judgment.
Plenty of water
Keep an eye on how much your dog is drinking and keep their water supply full at all times. Your dog's breed and weight may make them more vulnerable to over-heating. Overweight, older dogs and those suffering from heart disease are more likely to suffer. If your dog is well hydrated it will help ward off symptoms.
Dogs with thicker coats will shed some fur in the summer to help keep them cool. Wash and groom your dog regularly to aid this process and ensure they are free of dead hair. The AniForte® Neem Oil Shampoo promotes a silky and shiny coat which is easy to comb. It can also support against parasites which can be especially problematic over summer.
If you'd like to help your dog cool down most really enjoy a splash of water on a hot summer's day! You can even get doggy paddling pools but if you want to keep it simple a quick hose down works just as well and can be just as fun. This can also serve as good entertainment if they haven't been able to enjoy their unusual run around on especially hot days.
If you have a small animal like a rabbit or bird, make sure they’re taken into a cool part of your home. You can let them run safely around a tile floor or put a small frozen icepack, wet tea towel or loose piece of tile for them to lean against in their cage.
Rabbits, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs and birds need to stay as hydrated as possible, so give them small pieces of fruits and vegetables that are high in water (celery, apple, etc.). It’s a rewarding, delicious way to beat the heat.
A good way to keep your canine cool is to get them wet. Using a paddling pool or a garden hose is a great way to do this. If you don't have a garden, other ways to keep them cool are by laying your dog down on a wet towel, purchasing a cooling mat, or using a household fan. Don’t allow your pet to lie in the sun though – be sure to keep them in the shade and this should keep them a little cooler. Also, never leave your dog in the car on a hot day or go on a car journey without adequate ventilation.
'With the hot weather pending, make sure you pack water bottles with you everywhere you go so you can give your pet a drink anywhere, anytime. A cooling mat at home and in the car can also offer welcome relief to hot pets too.'
'Dogs can really easily overheat – especially flat nosed breeds or overweight animals – which can lead to heat stroke. You have to be able to spot the signs, as the sooner heat stroke is treated, the better the outcome. If your pet seems to be agitated and panting excessively, drooling, exceedingly thirsty, vomiting or staggering around, then you need to contact a vet as a matter of urgency. Cool towels can be put over your pet on the way to the vets to start the cooling process. Don’t submerge your pet in cold water as this can cause shock.'