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Heat Stroke signs and tips on prevention

Thursday, 1 June 2017 09:38 PM

Heat stroke in dogs 

Dogs eliminate heat through panting; however if the temperature of the environment is too hot and humid then panting becomes ineffective.

Normal body temperature is around 38.3C/101.4F. In cases of heat-stroke a dog's body temperature can rise in excess of 41.6C/107F. Increased muscular effort during excessive panting can also cause a rise in body temperature. 

Signs of heat-stroke:

  • Panting excessively
  • Anxious behaviour
  • Very red gums turning blue in extreme circumstances
  • Salivating
  • Very rapid heart rate
  • In cases of severe heat-stroke - collapse, convulsions, shock

What to do if your dog is suffering with heat-stroke: 

  • Seek veterinary advice/attention immediately as it can be difficult to be sure how serious the situation is and urgent treatment may be needed. 
  • Do not throw cold water over your dog!
  • Remove the dog from the hot environment
  • Immerse the dog in tepid water, cooling gradually, using either a  shower spray or similar.  Then douse the dog in cool water, particularly the head and neck - avoid using ice-cold water; or cover your dog with wet sheets. 
    • Use a fan to increase air flow over the dog as this aids cooling. If using a fan to cool your dog be careful of electric wires. 
    • Allow the dog to drink as much water as he wants in small quantities at a time 
    • Continue to douse the dog in cold water until his breathing starts to settle  
    • Seek veterinary attention as soon as is safe to do so

    If a dog's temperature is not reduced immediately, heat-stroke can be fatal.

    Here are some hints and tips for keeping your doggy cool in hot weather

    How to Keep your Hot Dog Cool

    Global Warming, here we come. Some of us might enjoy a break from the British wet weather, but our canines aren't necessarily relishing the heat. Elderly pets especially will be vulnerable to heat stroke, but we can do some small things to make life a bit more comfortable for them during the dog days of summer.

    1 - Plenty of water! I keep multiple bowls around the home, the salon, and even I have a travel bowl in the car. I will sometimes freeze bottles of water to bring with me or even put ice in bowls. Some people will even make an ice “cake” with tupperware and freeze some rubber toys inside to encourage the dog to lick the cake to get their toys out. Fluid intake is very important as a dog will pant to keep cool and lose hydration.

    2 - Paddle pool with toys. A small kiddies pool (non inflatable type) can be lots of fun when even just ankle deep. If they want to lay down and splash about, so much the better. I encouraged my dogs from a young age to enter the water by putting their favourite ball or rubber toy in it so they have to fish it out. No space for a paddling pool? A plastic dish basin does the trick for toy breeds.

    3 - Walk early morning / later evenings to avoid the hottest part of the day. If you must walk in the warmer part of the day, use a wet bandanna around the dog's neck.

    4 – Carry water for your dog on walks – you can get bottles which have a flip style bowl that can hook on to their lead or your belt. Some dogs will drink little but often, and that's fine so long as they are keeping hydrated. You can dampen the dog's coat, face and undercarriage, or even re-wet the bandanna with it too if he's looking too warm.

    5 - Avoid hot pavements. Paw pads can be scorched if walked over hot stones or pavement – so avoid too much walking on this type of surface.

    6 - Walk in shaded areas or near water. These areas near water will be cooler and perhaps breezier, particularly near the sea. However, it's best to avoid stagnant ponds due to dangerous blue-green algae – for more information on this

    7 – Aircon! In the car or in the home – we humans like our creature comforts. So do our creatures. If you can travel on hot days with Aircon, your pooch will pant less and lose less hydration through excessive panting. 

    8 - Cool mats keep 'em cool. You can now buy fabulous cool mats to use either as a bed or in a crate while travelling.

    9 –Keep the sun out. When in the home, leave windows open for cross ventilation and close curtains to keep out the belting sun. In the car if you have a shade for the back windows use them. If you are parking up on a long journey, use a reflective tarpaulin over the car. Please never leave a dog in a car on a hot (or even warm) day - but if you can make a den with a tarpaulin and wide open windows you can often create a space that is cooler inside than out. Water must be available at all times, and never leave a dog unattended. 

Dana Grant. 

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