Every summer, many dogs suffer from heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Heat stroke can be deadly, but this can usually be prevented by taking some common-sense steps to protect your pet. Prevention is definitely a better than cure when it comes to canine heat stroke, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how long Fido has been left out in the heat.
Heat exhaustion is a precursor to heat stroke, so you need to be able to recognize the early warning signs. Vomiting, diarrhea, heavy panting, and inner ear redness are signs you need to get your dog out of the sun and somewhere cool, like a basement or an air-conditioned room. Don’t put them in a bath of cold water as this could exacerbate the situation. Instead, give them plenty of water to drink and put some cool, not cold, water over their coat and let them cool slowly.
The number one cause of heat stroke or heat exhaustion is being left alone in a car. This is much more serious than people realize, as a car parked in 85-degree heat can reach an inside temperature of 120 in just 20 minutes. Moreover, leaving the window cracked really doesn’t do anything to change that. When you think you’re only going to be 2 minutes, think of the dog, because that 2 minutes can easily turn into 20 minutes, and your dog could die in that time. Set a timer on your phone to make sure you don’t leave your pet for an extended period, crack a window and leave the car running with the air conditioning on if possible.
On extremely hot summer days it may be best to keep your dog inside, taking him out just to use the bathroom. Dogs only have panting to help cool them which is not enough on those hot and humid days. It’s better to take walks early in the morning or late evening when it’s cooler. If you have to be outside during the heat of the day, be sure there is plenty of water to drink and that it’s not tipped over. A child’s wading pool is ideal way to make sure there’s always something to drink. Confine your dog to the shade if you can.
Finally, be aware of your dog’s habits and keep an eye out for any changes in behavior during those hot summer days. Heavy panting and lethargy are early signs that are easy to spot. Certain breeds are quicker to suffer than others in the heat, especially ones that already have breathing problems, like pugs and bulldogs. Remember, if it’s too hot for you its probably too hot for your dog. Be mindful and keep your dog cool, because a visit to the vet for heat-stroke can be more expensive than you think.