With the hot weather we have here in Richardson, it’s important to talk about how heat affects dogs differently than people. Dogs don’t have sweat glands like humans. When they begin to overheat, they don’t have the same systems in place to rid themselves of excess warmth. Dogs only have sweat glands on areas that aren’t covered in fur, like their paws and nose. It is actually through panting that dogs are best able to regulate their body temperature. This means that heat stroke is even more of a concern for flat-faced breeds, such as Pugs or Shih Tzus, because they cannot pant as effectively. If dogs are not able to control their body temperature effectively, they will experience heat stroke, which can be dangerous and even fatal if not treated immediately.
In this article, we will talk about some of the symptoms of heat stroke, how to prevent it, and what to do if your dog seems to be overheating.
When a dog begins to develop heat stroke, there are several tell-tale signs. Watch out for these symptoms in your pets. Heat stroke in animals must be dealt with promptly or it can be life-threatening:
- Excessive panting
- Dry, pale gums
- A bright red tongue
- Increased salivation
- An erratic or rapid pulse
- Rectal bleeding
If you think that your dog has heat stroke, follow these steps immediately to start reversing the effects. You will want to take your pet to a vet, but only after carefully returning their body temperature to a normal range first. Here is what you need to do:
- Remove your dog from the heat immediately and place a fan on them.
- Before you rush your pet to the vet, cool them down by repeatedly dousing them in cool or lukewarm water. Cool water for big dogs and lukewarm water for little dogs. Do not use cold water, as this dramatic change in temperature can actually cause a host of other life-threatening medical conditions. You should transport your pet as soon as possible to the veterinary hospital.
- Take your pet to a vet for an examination. Try to call ahead to let the clinic know that you will be coming in. Even if you think your pet’s health is returning to normal, a vet check is a good idea in case any internal damage has taken place. A vet will make sure your dog’s temperature is in a safe range, rehydrate your pup, and do a thorough inspection of their health for any complications that may have arisen.
- Depending on the severity, a vet will monitor your pet for 48 to 72 hours for shock, respiratory distress, kidney failure, heart abnormalities, and potential blood clots. They will make sure that your canine pal is ready to go back home safely, and give you any further instructions on how to nurture them back to health.
Prevention of heat injury is absolutely the most important action you can take with your pets. Know their fitness and exposure limitations especially with very young and very old pets. Here are some tips for keeping your pup healthy in hot weather:
- Make sure that they have lots of water available at all times.
- Do not leave your pet in a parked car. Ever. Even if you are parked in the shade. Parked cars trap heat and can get up to 172℉ inside!
- Never muzzle your dog if it is hot outside.
- Keep pets with pre-existing medical conditions like heart disorders or breathing problems cool and in the shade if it is hot outside.
- If it is a hot day, avoid taking your pet for long runs or walks at mid-day. Restrict their exercise to morning or evening hours when the sun isn’t as strong.
- Ensure that your pet has a shady, relaxing place to rest on hot days that will protect him or her from the possibility of overheating, such as inside an air conditioned area or under a tree.
We hope that you have found this article informative and that you now know enough about heat injury to ensure that your pet never has to experience it! If they ever do though, make sure to contact us right away. From all of us at The Vet House, we hope you (and your pet) enjoy the sunshine!