Killer heat and your dog
As temperatures begin to soar and the humidity starts to soak, heat stroke becomes a very real, and possibly fatal, threat to your dog. The normal comfortable temperature range for a dog is 101.5F TO 102.5F. With only a limited capacity to cool down, if a dog’s temperature begins to rise they can quickly start to cook from the inside out.
A dog suffering from heat stroke may show signs of increased panting, dry brick red gums, disorientation, diarrhoea, seizures and eventually collapse. If the temperature exceeds 106F a dog’s intestines begin to die allowing bacteria to enter the blood. This is a medical emergency as the body is now going into irreversible shutdown. While some dogs can recover from heat stroke, most will need some level of veterinary care to ensure there are no ongoing repercussions from the exposure.
Common situations that can lead to heat stroke include long or strenuous exercise in hot conditions, exercise or sun-tanning with a long coat, being left in a car unattended or being tied up with no water or shade.
Dogs most at risk include those that are overweight, not used to exercise during the day or breeds that have flat faces such as bulldogs as they have an impaired ability to lose heat through panting.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke move them to a cool place and offer them water. If there are any signs of collapse call your veterinarian immediately. They will advise you on how to start actively cooling your dog while transporting it to the clinic. This may include running a cool shower of water over the body, placing a fan in front of the dog or spraying alcohol on the paws and ears. Do not use ice-cold water or a wet towel draped over the dog as these can impair your cooling efforts.
Heat stroke can be deadly but it is also preventable. Ways to ensure your dog does not succumb to killer heat include walking them at dusk or dawn, giving them a summer shave, keeping them in the air conditioning during the day, never leaving them alone in a car or tied up in the sun and always having fresh water available. Most importantly, know your dog’s limits and make sure they stay cool this summer.