Dogs feel heat more and are affected by heat stroke and dehydration at a faster rate than that of adult humans. They also recover less rapidly and less well. It is a condition that definitely needs to be regarded as serious and urgent as it can rapidly lead to fatality.
Symptoms of heat stroke include :
- Rapid breathing/panting;
- Dry mouth and nose;
- Rapid heart rate;
- Dull, tacky-to-touch, greyish-pink, purple-blue or red gums (this is an emergency!)
- Collapse (this is an emergency!!)
What can you do in the event your dog shows symptoms of heat stroke?
- Immediately move your dog to a cool, shady area;
- Wet your dog with water - running water is best as it will help to continuously cool the body as much as possible. If limited water availability prohits you from completely wetting your dog, wetting to cool your dog on the chest, neck, head, underbelly is a priority.
- If possible, place ice packs around your dog's body and head during transport to the Vet.
- Transport your dog with the air conditioner cooling concentrated as much as possible on your dog.
Early detection and action to cool your dog affords a greater chance that your dog will fully recover, although in cases of heat-stroke, attention by your veterinarian is recommended. Eaven at the earliest stage of heat stroke, you may be fighting for your dog's life. The symptoms of heat-stroke can be followed in minutes by collapse, seizures, coma and death. You must get him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your Vet will most likely administer hydrating fluids by way of IV drip to help your dog recover and to try to prevent organ shut-down.
What can you do to help avoid the onset of heat-stroke?
- Obviously, prevention of heat-stroke is preferred.
- If you are out, make sure that your dog has frequent access to drinking water. Cool your dog down with a swim or otherwise by wetting if possible, especially if he'she is panting more laboriously than usual.
- Try to keep in shady areas whenever possible.
- If for any reason you have your dog muzzled using the soft style muzzles that keep your dog's mouth closed, your dog should be removed from the immediate environment which necessitates us of a muzzle in the first place and the muzzle must be removed frequently (at least every 10 minutes on warm days, more frequently if the weather is hot) and your dog given opportunity for a drink. If the weather is hot and it is necessary for your dog to be muzzled, a *cage* style of muzzle is best as this still permits your dog to fully open his/her mouth and pant - panting is your dog's natural (and very necessary!) cooling system. Soft-muzzles are designed for short term use only (eg. during treatment at your veterinarian's).
- If the weather is hot, say "no" to your dog coming for a ride in the car with you, but if that can't be the case, certainly do not leave your dog unattended in a parked car. Temperatures in parked cars rise at an alarming rate - even within 1 minutre the temperature can reach levels that can be catastrophic and fatal to your dog. If you do park the car, park in the shade and ensure all windows are wound right down to achieve maximum air-flow. There are grids available that can be easily locked into the window space to prevent your dog from jumping out.
- Saturating your dog's coat with water to refresh and then jumping into a hot car can achieve the opposite affect than what we intend. Under normal circumstances, your dog's coat is an insulater against cold AND heat. Water in a dog's coat absorbs the heat from the car and can cause your dog's temperature to rise even higher than it might if its coat was dry. So if you've been treating your dog to a fun, invigorating and refreshing swim at the dog friendly beach or doggy swimming pool, dry off as much of the water from his/her coat as is possible. Start your vehicle and run the air-conditioning for a few minutes before your dog enters it.
- Make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh, clean drinking water at all times. It's always a good idea to have more than one drinking container filled with water, in case one is accidentally spilled. Larger volumes of water remain cooler for longer, so larger drinking vessels are better.
- Try filling an empty ice-cream container with water and freezing it into a block. The block can be added to your dog's drinking bowl - it will cool the water around it as it melts.
- Freeze a chicken-neck or other suitable dog treats in a block of ice and leave this for your dog to slowly work on when you leave for work. Not only will it help to keep him hydrated by licking at the ice block, it can also be a source of occupation while he tries to work out how to get to the food rewards!
- Ensure your dog has a cool, shady area within which to rest during the day.
- Exercise your dog in the cool of the day - either very early morning or after sunset.
- Leave a kiddies' clam shell where your dog can cool himself by taking a dip throughout the day. Naturally, size of your dog -vs- depth of water needs to be taken into account and the clam shell/pond should be positioned so that it is safe from being tipped up and where your dog can easily step out.
Please remember - if you suspect your dog may be suffering heat-stroke, early and immediate veterinary attention is a must.