Most dog owners want what is best for their best friend, and that includes giving them healthy meals, a good bed, playtime and exercise, but not every owner knows the dangers of heat stroke. Heat stroke in dogs is a killer, and believe it or not thousands of owners lose their best friends each year to this deadly condition, yet it is preventable. Every dog can suffer from heat stroke, but it is especially the older dogs where it can set in much quicker, and if you know the signs to look for you can prevent it before it reaches the deadly stage.
First of all let us explain a little about how heat stroke comes about in our dogs to help our readers to learn what to watch out for. if, a dog’s temperature reaches 104 then it’s way of cooling itself becomes impaired, such as panting. Once his body mechanisms become overwhelmed then heat stroke can set in. That said, during this time as the temperature rises even further, other body functions start to fail, like the neurologic, circulatory, blood clotting and urinary systems, after which there is little chance of saving him. However, if you know the signs to look for early on, then he won’t get to this point, but sometimes without the knowledge we can inadvertently be harming him without even knowing it.
There are many signs of heat stress, or heat exhaustion that we need to pay attention to, especially in the warmer climates, even in the low 80’s dogs can get heat stroke, depending on where they are. If a dog is walking more slower than usual, or seemingly having trouble keeping up with you just walking, or if he is seeking out shady areas, and wanting to stop frequently these can be early signs. Moreover, prolonged and persistent panting as well as loud, or labored breathing can also be a warning sign.
Wide eyes or stressed eyes and increased anxiety in a dog can also be a sign of heat stress, although not all dogs will show all symptoms, any combination of what has been mentioned should be taken seriously. Having said that, if a dog is in a vehicle they can suffer very quickly from heat stroke, and early warning signs here could be barking, pacing, seeking out shelter under a seat or dashboard, and clawing at the windows or seats in an attempt to escape. Many dogs that die of heat stroke are simply because the owner left them in the car too long, even with a window down a couple of inches, this is because the heat in a car can be as much as 20 degrees hotter than outside the car.
Signs of heat stroke are obviously more serious, and immediate medical attention needs to be sort, especially if you notice a dog vomiting or having diarrhea, possibly with blood, drooling, eyes glazed over, staggering, seizures or even collapsing. One study showed that the temperature in a car can rise up to over 40 F in just one hour, the same study revealed that even on a mild day at 72 the temperature inside a car reached 93 F in just ten minutes. Therefore, it is highly recommended that if you have to leave your dog in a vehicle for more than 5 minutes, don’t take him with you, especially if you cannot let him out for a drink of water.
Because dogs do not have sweat glands like us, they can’t sweat to cool off, they only have panting, so they need to be cooled down in other ways, like giving them plenty of cool water to drink. in Addition, on hot days you can fill a child’s paddling pool, and let the dog soak his paws in the cool water, which can help cool him off too. However, make sure there is plenty of shade in the garden or yard area where you plan to set the pool up at. Having said that, if there is no natural shade like trees, then you could put a gazebo up, or a thick sheet or blanket to provide some shade.
The main concern with dog owners in the summer heat should be to keep the dog at a reliably cool temperature, remember he has a fur coat, so if it feels warm to you, then it’s probably hot for him. Taking him for walks early in the morning, or after dark when it’s cooler could work better than midday, and having an air conditioner in the home that he can lay in front of will benefit him greatly. Moreover, one should also remember that hot ashpalt, or paved areas can also add to heat stroke, so a grassy area would be better than a hard surface. Finally, by providing some of these things mentioned, along with what now seems logical solutions for him to cool off with, you may just be saving his life.