Hello my doggist people!
I’m back with a much needed post in summer because each year there are several dogs that die from heat stroke, especially by the negligence of some owners / guardians who leave the dog in the car.
The first thing to do is always try to avoid the situation. In the previous post I spoke of how to prevent precisely your dog from suffering heatstroke. So now you will learn what you have to do if the dog is in this circumstance.
What is heat stroke?
It is the physical condition resulting from hyperthermia (increased body temperature).
This can occur when the dog is exposed to high temperatures, poorly ventilated spaces or limited access to water. Other factors that increase the likelihood of suffering a heat stroke are obesity, respiratory problems, exercise in hot hours, among others.
We know that dogs don’t sweat through the skin as humans (read the previous post to see how dogs release heat) and they are not as efficient as we are removing heat. Therefore their temperature can rise very fast, preventing us from realising the situation until symptoms appear suddenly, laddering to an emergency situation within minutes.
Heat stroke in dogs is a very serious condition that needs immediate medical attention, since the damage to the system may be irreversible or cause death. Knowing how to act can help you save the dog’s life.
Detecting early symptoms is key to preventing permanent damage to the dog’s organs. These include:
- Excessive panting
- Extreme thirst
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Pale gums and a very bright red tongue
- Thick saliva
- Increased heart rate
- The skin around muzzle or neck doesn’t snap back when pinched
The situation is severe if the dog exhibits these symptoms:
- Increased difficulty breathing
- Gums turn to bright red, blue or purple
- The dog doesn’t want to get up
- Weakness, dizziness, disorientation, fainting / collapse / unconsciousness
If you have the slightest suspicion that a dog is suffering from heat stroke you must act immediately:
Ask someone to call the vet while trying to cool down the dog.
1- The first thing is to remove the dog from the heat source and direct sunlight. Try to take him inside with air conditioning and if that is not possible, take him to a shaded place with some nice air flow or with a fan. Restrict the dog’s activity.
2- Offer him fresh water but do not force him to drink it nor put it into his mouth. Try to prevent him from drinking excessive amounts of water at a time.
Do not give the dog human sports drinks.
If he is not interested in the water you can try cool or room temperature chicken broth.
3- This next step must be done urgently if the dog has any of the serious symptoms. Start cooling the dog with water (never very cold water!!)
If possible, wet him with a stream of cool water. If the water is coming from a hose be sure it is low pressure. Do not submerge the dog completely because it could lower his temperature too fast.
You can apply wet rags or washcloths in the stomach, armpits, groins, pads and around the head. Don’t cover his body too much because heat would accumulate. Change washcloths often to prevent that from happening.
4- NEVER use ice or too cold water! This would cause the blood vessels to constrict, preventing heat exchange through the blood flow and causing the temperature to rise. It could also cause hypothermia, leading to other complications.
5- Apply rubbing alcohol on the pads of the dog’s paws, this will help him lose heat since dogs sweat through the pads. Lower the alcohol concentration with water (put half of each). Make sure the legs are uncovered and exposed to cool air.
6- You can gently massage the dog’s legs to promote blood circulation.
7- Visit the vet immediately even if the dog seems better! You have to check that there is no internal damage.
Please everyone, don’t leave your dog in the car! Too many cases are repeated summer after summer.
For more information on how to prevent heat stroke in your canine friends read the post 10 Tips For A Safe And Cool Summer With Your Dog
See you in 2 Tuesdays! 🙂