Heat stroke is an incredibly dangerous, and often fatal, condition that affects dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages throughout the summer months. You have probably already learned of the dangers of leaving your dog in a hot car during the summer, but heat stroke can occur at any time if your dog does not have proper access to shade or water.
Signs that Your Dog is Overheating:
It is normal for your dog to be panting on a hot summer day, but your dog can quickly go from being a little bit warm to suffering from the initial stages of heat stroke. Some of the signs of heat stroke in dogs include:
– Excessive panting
– Rapid heart rate
– Excessive salivation/drooling
– Pale or gray gums
– Weakness or confusion
If you notice your dog exhibiting any of these signs it is essential that you take immediate action to cool him down. Dogs that do not receive prompt treatment for heat stroke can quickly progress to seizures, coma or cardiac arrest – it can even cause death in a matter of minutes.
Ways to Cool Your Dog Down:
While cooling your dog down is very important if he is suffering from heat stroke, you need to be careful about doing it too quickly. You should not, for example, dump your dog into a tub of ice water because this could cause the capillaries in his skin to constrict which will prevent the cooling of his internal organs. Rather, you should employ one of the methods below:
Wet Towel: Soak a towel in cool water and drape it over your dog’s body to cool him slowly. If your dog is very small, it is recommended that you use lukewarm rather than cold water to avoid cooling him too quickly.
Air Conditioning/Fan: If your dog is in the very beginning stages of heat stroke, moving him indoors to an air conditioned area or placing a fan in front of him may be enough to cool him down. It is also recommended that you let your dog lie on a cool surface such as tile or wood floors rather than carpet.
Pool of Water: The only place dogs are capable of sweating is through the pads of their feet so having your dog stand in a pool or bathtub filled with a few inches of cool water can help to cool him down. Remember, the water should be lukewarm or cool, not cold – and do not use ice cubes to cool the water or it will become too cold.
Drinking Water: As you employ one of the methods above to cool your dog down, you should also give him fresh water to drink. Though ice water is not inherently dangerous for dogs, it is best to avoid it in situations where heat stroke is a factor because you don’t want to cool your dog too quickly. It is also important that you make sure your dog doesn’t drink the water too fast or he could swallow air which will contribute to bloat.
In cooling your dog down, it is a good idea to monitor his body temperature – once it returns to 103°F, you do not need to cool the dog any further. In fact, it is a good idea to dry the dog off at this point and cover him to ensure that he doesn’t continue to lose body heat. You should also take your dog to see the veterinarian as soon as possible after a heat stroke incident to ensure that no internal damage was done and that there are no other complications.