Summer is here, which means it’s about to get HOT, HOT, HOT! As we start to plan the ways we’re going to beat the heat this season, let’s not forget about our four-legged family members.
Here at Best Friends, the upcoming months mean that we’ll see far too many cases of dogs that have spent too much time outside and have gotten overheated. In extreme cases, these dogs can develop a condition called heatstroke. Remember, dogs can’t sweat the way people do and panting alone may not be enough to get rid of excess body heat when it is hot and humid outside. In the case of dogs with heatstroke, their core body temperature becomes dangerously high and, if it is not corrected right away, this can lead to organ failure and death.
How do I know if my dog is experiencing heat stroke?
Dogs with heatstroke may pant excessively or have difficulty breathing. You may also notice that their gums are bright red and their saliva is thick and ropey. As the condition worsens, you may see bloody diarrhea or vomiting as well. If you can, take a rectal temperature. Anything >104°F is cause for concern. At the first sign of any of these issues, get your pet to a veterinarian right away!
Move the dog out of the source of heat and preferably into an air-conditioned area. You can also place cool wet towels on your dog to try and begin to lower their temperature while you get to the vets office.
How can I decrease the risk of my dog having heatstroke?
• NEVER EVER leave your dog in a car – not even for a minute, not even with the windows open
• If you are going to exercise with your dog, do it early in the morning or late in the evening. Even then, keep a close eye on your dog to make sure they don’t seem overly stressed
• Be aware that dogs with preexisting heart or breathing problems, or breeds with short noses (e.g. Bulldogs, Pugs) are at an increased risk for heatstroke
• Dogs that are overweight or have a very thick hair coat are also at an increased risk of heatstroke
• Make sure your dog always has access to shade and plenty of water if they spend any time outdoors
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