With prolonged daylight and warm weather, the summer can be a great time to get active with your pet. However, it’s important to be aware of the dangers of heatstroke – a life-threatening condition, caused by the elevation of a dog’s body temperature. While people can also suffer heatstroke, the risk is much greater for dogs as they only perspire around their paws and nose (which is not sufficient alone to cool their body).
Dogs typically rely on panting to keep themselves cool. Panting is one of the most important ways a dog thermo regulates. A dog with moderate heatstroke (body temperature from 40ºc to 41ºc) can recover within an hour if given prompt first aid and veterinary care (normal body temperature is 37 ºc -38.5°c). Severe heatstroke (body temperature over 41ºc) can be deadly and immediate veterinary aid is needed.
The average survival rate of dogs diagnosed with heat stroke is 50%
Dogs with a thicker coat, have obesity, have short noses or medical conditions are susceptible to heatstroke. Make sure that you know the signs of heatstroke in dogs; it could potentially save their life! A dog suffering from heatstroke will display several signs:
- Rapid panting
- Bright red tongue
- Excessive drooling
- Red gums
- Rapid/irregular heart rate
- Thick, sticky saliva
- Depression and disorientation
- Vomiting – sometimes with blood
- Diarrhoea – sometimes with blood
At a body temperature of 43 degrees, dog’s organs begin to fail
Fortunately, Heat stroke can be prevented by taking caution not to expose a dog to hot and humid conditions.
- Keep pets with conditions like heart disease, obesity, older age, or breathing problems cool and in the shade. Even normal activity for these pets can be harmful.
- Provide access to water at all times.
- Do not leave your pet in a hot parked car even if you’re in the shade or will only be gone a short period of time. Within 10 minutes, a closed car can reach temperatures of 45 degrees!
- Make sure outside dogs have access to shade and water.
- On a hot day, limit exercise and don’t take your dog jogging with you. Too much exercise when the weather is very warm can be dangerous. If you are out exercising with your dog, take a collapsible water dish and fresh water. Another great tip is to walk your dog in the morning or evening in the summer months when the temperatures are lower.
- Spraying down your dog with cool water or allowing them to swim can help maintain a normal body temperature.
15 minutes is all it can take for a dog to die of heat stroke
The sooner heatstroke is detected and treated; the better chance there is of survival. If in doubt please seek medical advice.