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Heatstroke in dogs

Dogs 31 - Heatstroke in dogs

Warm weather means enjoying outdoor activities and for dogs and dog owners alike these are great news! It's time for pleasant walks outside, outdoor sports and even going for a swim! However the summer heat can be a bit too much for our furry companions so this is an excellent time to remind owners how to recognise the signs of heat stroke and what they should do if they see a dog in distress.
A dog suffering from heat stroke will present excessive panting, drooling an abnormally high heart rate and an anxious behaviour. As the condition progresses the dog may seem confused, uncoordinated and their gums and tongue turn red. Some dogs will present vomiting and diarrhoea. In a small amount of time the dog can collapse, go into shock and ultimately die.

Many of these incidents happen because people are not aware that dogs can't handle high temperatures very well. Unlike us, dogs can only sweat through their foot pads and they lose body heat mainly through panting. This means that they are unable to lower their body temperature as efficiently as a human would and it means that if the air around them is hot as well, panting becomes very ineffective.

If you notice any of the previously mentioned signs on a dog the first thing you need to do is to remove the dog from the heated area immediately. Then you must gradually bring the dog's temperature down and take it straight to the vet. Offer the dog frequent but small amounts of cool water at a time and apply cold, wet towels directly to the dog's skin in the abdominal area, groin, head and neck. You can also use cool fans and air conditioning to help dissipate the heat.If possible, take the dog's rectal temperature every 10 minutes. As soon as it reaches 103°F (39°C) you can stop with the cooling efforts since from that point on the dog will be able to stabilise its temperature on its own.

Ideally you should proceed with the cooling measures on the way to the vet. Dogs suffering from heat stroke go through severe dehydration, which can cause internal organ damage. Even if a dog seems to have recovered after the cooling process, it is still recommend to be brought to the vet as soon as possible.
This information is very important for all dog owners. If owners are able to quickly recognise the first signs of heat stroke they will be able to act immediately and save that dog's life!

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Published: 08 Jul 2015

Read the previous article: Equine castration