In July 2009 two German Shepherd police dogs died of heatstroke after having been left in a parked car on their own in the United Kingdom. This tragic incident highlighted the danger of leaving dogs in hot temperatures and even in a very short space of time, the consequences can be fatal. Whereas people perspire and lose fluid through perspiration, dogs control their temperature, mainly through panting.
Panting helps transmit heat from their bodies out of their mouths through their breath. When temperature increases panting can become ineffective and dogs may need help in order to prevent heatstroke. A dog’s normal body temperature is around 38.5 C but in case of heat-stroke this can climb rapidly in excess of 41 C. The hotter a dog gets, the more effort is put into trying to cool himself down and this intense panting can also have the unwanted affect of rising his body temperature.
Signs of heat stroke in a dog include:
* Excessive panting * Thick saliva * Dark red gums * Disorientation * Rapid heart rate * Collapse or convulsions * Loss of Consciousness
How to Prevent Heat Stroke in a Dog ~
To prevent heat stroke in a dog, keep your pet out of direct sunlight and always allow your dog access to cool drinking water. Never leave your dog in a car especially in warm weather, even with the windows open. Heat within the dog builds up very quickly and death can soon result as the body temperature rises. When travelling with your dog, always make sure he stays hydrated.
Don’t leave dogs in conservatories or caravans, either, during hot weather. On very warm days, encourage your dog to stay in shady areas and avoid vigorous play or exercise. Heat stroke can occur at any time during hot days, even when out walking. For this reason, on hot summer days, choose early morning or evening when temperature is cooler, to walk your dog.
How to Help a Dog Suffering from Heat Stroke ~
Urgent action is required if you think your dog may be suffering from heat stroke. Move your dog immediately to the coolest spot you can find and ring your veterinarian for advice. Your aim should be to reduce your dog’s temperature. Immerse the dog in cool water up to the neck. Then sprinkle water over his head. A stream is ideal if in the outdoors. If water is in short supply, sprinkle it over your dog.
Don’t use ice-cold water or ice cubes as this extreme change of temperature could cause blood vessels to constrict which further prevents the body from cooling. Encourage your dog to drink water in small quantities at a time and continue to sprinkle with cool water until his breathing starts to settle. Extreme heat can cause all dogs to suffer but some breeds are more susceptible to heat stroke than others. For instance short nosed dogs, Boxers, Corgis, Pug dogs, Dachshunds and Toy breeds can be more prone to heatstroke. All dog owners should be aware of the dangers of heat stroke in a dog and familiar with how to prevent this so as not to cause unnecessary suffering to their pet.