Did you know that every year, over 1,000 dogs die from heatstroke? It’s true. That’s why it’s so important to protect your pet from the dangers of hot weather. To learn more about keeping your dog safe on a hot summer day or any time of the year when temperatures soar, keep reading!
The Dangers of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that can occur when a dog over-exerts itself in hot weather and its body temperature rises too high. It’s different than just being overheated, which happens when your dog has been active but not working up a sweat—heat stroke is caused by the inability to regulate their body temperature or sweat effectively.
Dogs with fur are at greater risk of developing heat stroke than dogs with short hair because they’re unable to cool themselves down as well. Older dogs and those with short snouts (like pugs) also have trouble regulating temperatures, because they don’t have enough room for the blood vessels that send heat away from the core of their bodies to circulate around it quickly enough. If you want to keep your pooch safe from this danger, there are some tips and tricks you can use!
The Danger is Real
The danger of heatstroke is real—and it can be fatal. Dogs don’t have sweat glands, so they rely on panting as their primary way to cool down. Panting works by pulling air across the tongue and into the mouth, where moisture evaporates and cools the blood going back to the lungs. This process won’t be effective in high humidity or if your dog is already dehydrated or overheated, meaning that even at lower temperatures, it’s still critical that you stay aware of how your pup is feeling.
When considering whether you should leave your pooch home during a heatwave, remember that dogs don’t have the same kind of temperature control mechanisms as humans do: They can’t take off layers of clothing when they start feeling hot; there are no air conditioning units for them to sit next to; and they can’t tell you when they’re too hot because they communicate nonverbally through body language (such as panting).
Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
Your dog’s body temperature can rise quickly in the summer, even when you don’t think it’s hot outside. A dog’s normal body temperature is 100 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38 to 39 Celsius), so when they overheat, they will feel very warm and may be panting heavily. Your dog could also vomit and have diarrhea as a result of heat stroke. If your pup is showing these signs, take him to the veterinarian right away! When dogs become overheated, they can experience lethargy or weakness; collapse; increased heart rate (tachycardia); breathing problems that cause labored breathing and excessive panting; bright red tongue, gums, and eyelids; swollen tongue that could hang out of his mouth like a sock puppet—and sometimes even seizures.
How to Prevent Heat Stroke in Dogs
- Keep your dog cool.
- If you’re out for a walk, bring a water bottle or hose to periodically spray your pup down.
- If he’s panting heavily, check his tongue and gums for signs of dehydration (they should be pink). If they’re white or dark red in color, he needs a drink!
- Keep him hydrated:
- Offer water often (in small amounts) so that he can drink as much as he wants throughout the day.
- Don’t give him ice cubes; they may just make him more thirsty!
How to Cool a Dog with Heat Stroke
In the event that your dog does suffer from heatstroke, there are several ways to cool him down. First, take your dog to a cool place. Do not use ice or ice water—they may make your dog’s condition worse. Also, do not forcibly force water into his mouth; let him drink of his own volition (or at least try).
If you have access to an air conditioner or fan and think that would help lower your pup’s temperature (see below), then by all means use it! But don’t be too quick to jump on this option just yet: as mentioned earlier, while fans can bring down body temperature faster than just letting things ride out naturally, they also tend to make dogs pant more heavily which can cause them even more distress in some cases—particularly if they’re already having trouble breathing normally due to their respiratory issues. So only use a fan if you’ve exhausted other options first!
As tempting as putting your dog into front of one might be right now because everyone knows how much dogs love lounging in front of fans when we’re home alone watching movies together on Saturday nights… Well… maybe don’t do it? The same goes for cold compresses and cold showers; these things may seem like obvious fixes but according to many vets (who know better than I do), using either could put added stress on their body systems which could lead them down an even darker path toward death!
If your dog has heat stroke, cool them down immediately.
If your dog’s temperature is too high and you think they’re experiencing heat stroke, take them to a shaded area immediately. Use cool water to bathe the dog, then use a fan or other device to blow cool air on them. If possible, get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Just as we are all susceptible to heat stroke, we are all capable of preventing it. You’re not powerless against this affliction! The same steps you take to avoid heat stroke yourself can protect your pooch: stay hydrated, keep cool, and know the signs. It may seem like a lot of bother when you’re just trying to get through the summer with your pup, but a little preparation can ensure nothing but good times for you and your best friend.