Summertime With Your Dog
Heat stroke occurs when the dog has absorbed more heat than he can release. Dogs are well designed to absorb and store heat. They are poorly designed to release heat. In order for a dog to cool down it has to release heat back into the atmosphere one cell at a time. Panting is a ventilation system, like running a fan. They can sweat a little through their paws. On top of all that a dog's normal body temperature is just under 102 degrees.
Heat stroke is serious medical emergency and requires prompt medical treatment.
All dogs can suffer from heat stroke, but those at the greatest risk are young puppies, old dogs, dogs with brachycephalic heads (like bull dogs and pugs), dogs with short muzzles, over-weight dogs, dogs with serious medical problems, especially heart and respiratory conditions, and dogs with thick, heavy coats.
There are a number of other factors that increase the risk of heat stroke. High humidity, even in cooler temperatures, is actually a higher risk factor for heat stroke than high temperatures. Veterinary emergency rooms see more cases of heat stroke in high humidity, cooler temperatures than they see on super hot days. This is primarily because owners are more careful to not over heat their dogs when the temperature is super hot than they are when the temperatures are cooler, but humid.
Additional risk factors are: physical exertion, poor ventilation, dehydration, the use of antihistamines and/or anti-vomiting medications, and anxiety.
The signs of heat stroke change as the condition progresses. Early signs including: a panicked expression/anxiety, heavy panting, deep breathing, drooling, weakness, inattentiveness or confusion, vomiting or diarrhea, and occasionally, bleeding.
In later stages you may see pale or graying gums, shallow breathing, breathing slows or stops, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, seizures or coma.
First aide: Should you see any signs of heat stroke in your dog there are some first aide measures you can take before you take your dog to the vet. According to Dr. Kathryn Tyler from Uptown Animal Hospital in Chicago, your first aide efforts should be aimed at getting the body temperature down. Apply cold water or towels soaked in cold water over your dogs body, and seek medical attention promptly. This is a medical emergency that requires the attention of a veterinarian.
According to the Humane Society Of The United States, most heat stroke occurs when dogs are left in cars in hot weather. According to the American Kennel Club, on an 80 degree day the inside of a car can heat up to 120 degrees in just minutes. Furthermore, research has shown that windows left open a crack allow the car to heat up to the same degree as when the windows are closed.
Do not leave your dog alone in the car, and park in the shade. When we travel with our dogs one of us stays with the dogs, either in the car, or we throw a blanket on the ground and one of us sits out under a shady tree with the dogs.
Don't take your dog for a long walk or engage in vigorous play on a hot day, especially not during the hottest part of the day. Walk in the shade, avoid hot asphalt, avoid hot sidewalks.
Don't leave your dog out in the sun. Make sure she has plenty of fresh water and good ventilation.
Ice cubes are a good way to keep a dog hydrated, slowly.