K9 Heat Stroke

Posted: October 23, 2010 by at K9 Health & Fitness

Dogs don’t sweat when they are hot like we do; they rely on panting and evaporation of moisture from their mouth and tongue to keep their body temperature within normal limits. This isn’t always effective when conditions are particularly hot, such as inside a closed car. Hyperthermia, or heatstroke, is also a risk if you exercise your dog in the middle of the day during the warmer months of the year.

Some dogs are at particular risk of developing heat stroke: breeds such as British Bulldogs with their short noses aren’t able to cool themselves very well at all. Obese dogs, or those with respiratory disease are also at greater risk of overheating.

If your dog is getting too hot, you’ll notice some or all of the following symptoms:

1. weakness and dizziness
2. depression and lethargy
3. thick mucusy saliva
4. bright red gums and tongue
5. very rapid shallow panting

These symptoms can progress to vomiting, shock and coma.
Heat stroke can be fatal, so don’t be complacent.

If your dog has heat stroke, your first instinct is likely to be to douse them with cold water. This is a bad idea, because the cold water will cause the blood vessels on the surface of their body to constrict and reduce blood flow to their skin. This reduces their ability to lose body heat and can delay their temperature returning to normal.

The best idea is to pour tepid water or lukewarm water over your dog frequently, and put them in front of a fan.

Even if your dog looks quite okay, take them to your veterinarian for a check up. Heat stroke can affect the internal organs and your vet may recommend blood tests to make sure everything is okay on the inside.

In Summary – Heat stroke is a serious condition but it can be prevented.

Don’t exercise your dog in hot conditions.
Never leave your dog in a car when it is warm, even if only for a minute or two.
Make sure your dog has shade and plenty of water at all times.