As the summer begins to approach, we must remember that our furry friends are vulnerable to illnesses and injuries, like foot pad burns, sunburn, and heatstroke, during this time of year. Out of all the aforementioned conditions, heatstroke is the most dangerous, due to its ability to cause convulsions, blindness, hemorrhages, brain damage, seizures, organ failure, and death.
Preventing Heat Stroke
Any animal that doesn’t have the innate ability to cool itself off is susceptible to heat stroke. But, when it comes to dogs, there are some breeds (like bulldogs and pugs) and those with certain conditions that are more likely to fall victim. For instance, breathing problems, old age, obesity, and heart disease all put your pet at a higher risk. And, for these animals, even a walk (and other normal activities) in the heat of the summer sun can be harmful.
Before you begin to feel sad, there are still lots of ways to keep your pet safe from the summer heat. Simply check out the guidelines listed below for some ideas:
● When it’s hot outside, don’t let your dog linger on hot surfaces like black cement and asphalt. These hot surfaces make their body heat up quickly and can burn sensitive parts as well. Thus, walks should be limited during these periods of high heat.
● Although giving your dog a summer haircut can help with overheating, never shave the skin. To keep your pet safe from sunburn, your pet should retain at least one inch of hair.
● It’s important that your pet has access to fresh water at all times. If you have an outside pet, make sure that it has access to plenty of cool water and lots of shade.
● When temperatures rise, restrict the amount of exercise that your pet engages in. Your pet should also be muzzle-free during this period, as these devices prevent panting.
● One fun way to bring temperatures down in the summer is by taking your dog out for a swim. You can also go for a run through sprinklers or splashing in a wading pool.
● If you plan to be up and about with your pet this summer, make sure that you go places that are pet-friendly — you never want to leave your dog in a parked vehicle. The temperatures inside your car can exceed 140 degrees in just a few minutes, so even a quick errand could be deadly for your furry friend.
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms and Tips
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are incredibly dangerous conditions for humans and animals alike. If you are quick enough, you may even be able to stop the heat exhaustion (by taking steps to decrease your buddy’s temperature) from progressing and prevent the considerably more dangerous heat stroke. Heat exhaustion symptoms include:
● Rapid panting
● Vomiting and nausea
● Redness inside of the ears
If you notice any of the above symptoms, immediately take your pet to a cooler area, like in the basement or near the fan, and give them some fresh water. You will also want to wet the skin with cool water and let it air-dry.
Heatstroke Symptoms and Tips
Your dog’s normal body temperature is anywhere between 100 and 102.5 degrees and when it overheats, your dog’s normal body mechanisms are not able to work efficiently. Unlike humans, they don’t sweat and while panting helps, it can only go so far. Thus, if your dog’s body temperature reaches 106, immediate veterinary assistance is required. Symptoms of heatstroke include:
● Thick, sticky saliva
● Pale or red gums
● Bright red tongue
● Rapid panting
Your pet may also show signs of weakness, dizziness, depressed mood, and nausea. This is sometimes accompanied by shock, diarrhea, and even coma.
If you suspect that your pet is suffering from heat stroke, fast action can save its life.
● Remove your dog from the hot area immediately
● Use cool or room temperature water to dampen his skin and a fan to increase the air movement around him. Never use very cold or ice water because it can be counterproductive and cause other life-threatening conditions from cooling down to fast.
● Make sure that your pet has access to water but, don’t force it to drink as this may cause your pet to choke or inhale it.
If your actions are successful and your animal seems to be recovering, it doesn’t mean that you are out of the woods yet. You must still take him to the vet as soon as possible. Dehydration is just one complication, among many, that the veterinarian will need to address.
A pet that has been brought into the vet’s office for heat stroke should also be monitored for:
● Heart abnormalities
● Kidney failure
● Respiratory distress
Because clotting problems are common in this situation, the vet may take also take blood samples. Also, if the kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, or any of the other organs were harmed as a complication of the heat stroke, the consequences may be irreversible.
The Bottom Line
By nature dogs are protective of their owners. Responsible owners have to return the favor by even as their pets safe from harm black excessive heat so they can safely enjoy the summer.