HEATSTROKE IN DOGS
A dog’s temperature is normally between 101F and 102F, and they regulate their body temperature by panting, which expels heat out. If they cannot expel the heat fast enough. Their body temperature will rise and an increase of just 3 degreesF to 105 F can be very dangerous. At this temperature the dog is no longer able to cope with reducing his own body temperature and his oxygen demand is greatly increased.
When the body temperature reaches 108 F the major organs e.g. the heart, liver and kidneys will start to fail and even if the condition is treated rapidly the damage may be irreversible leading to long term health problems.
Heatstroke in dogs is often brought on by leaving them in a hot car (even with windows open) or exercising them during the heat of the day. Early signs of heatstroke are rapid breathing, dry mouth & nose, excessive panting and excessive salivation. If you notice these signs in your dog or if you notice another dog in a car, THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. If left untreated these symptoms will rapidly be followed by collapse, seizures, coma and death.
Emergency First Aid
• Cool the pet down by opening all windows of the car in order to create a breeze or turn the air conditioning on.
• Pour cool water over the dog
• Offer sips of water to drink
• Rush the dog to the vet for further treatment
At home, we keep damp towels in the freezer, which can be taken out and placed over the dog to quickly lower its temperature.
Ways to avoid heatstroke
• Never leave your dog in a car during the summer, even with the windows open.
• Avoid walking your dog during the daytime when the sun is at its hottest.
• Go for a walk early in the morning or late in the evening when the temperature is cooler.
• Do not take your dog for long walks or let him over exert himself and stop regularly to rest and to offer him water to drink.
• Overweight and older dogs will suffer more in the heat, so be extra vigilant with them.
People can become irritable when they get too hot, and dogs are no different. Many dogs become more sensitive and less tolerant than usual, and it should be no surprise that more dog bites are incurred during hot or humid weather than in cooler weather. Ensure that children give the dog some peace and its own space.
Dogs with weakened heart and lung function will also need extra help to stay cool in hot weather.
Make sure your dog has a shady place to get out of the sun at all times if it must be outside, and keep it indoors when it’s extremely hot. A tiled or concrete floor is a cooler place for your dog to lie.
Do not let your dog stand around on hot tarmac pavements. Being close to the ground they feel the heat more readily, and the hot pavement will burn their pads.
Keep your dog’s coat brushed and trimmed. However, it is a mistake to clip them close to the skin. You should leave the hair to a length of one inch to offer some protection against the sun. Like us, dogs can also suffer from sunburn. Westies and other white dogs are particularly prone to sunburn due to a lack of pigmentation in their skin. The tips of the ears, bridge of the nose, around the eyes and abdomen are areas which can become burnt easily due to the thin skin and not much hair covering in these sensitive areas. High factor waterproof sunscreen or complete sunblock can be applied, this will provide protection for vulnerable areas. You can now buy sunblock cream especially produced for dogs and pets, but prevention is a must and keeping in the shade is a priority.