With the days getting warmer, now is the time to plan for summer pet safety. As you will probably want to spend as much time outside with your dog as time will let. If the weather is too hot, you only have to take a second breather and a cold drink of water. It will not be that easy for your furry friend.
Prevent Heat Exhaustion
You can help keep your pal from overheating with some basic safety. These include limiting exercise or outdoor activity on extremely hot days, providing plenty of shade and water when your dog is outdoors, DO NOT, under any circumstances, leave your pet in a parked car, not even in the shade with the windows rolled down. On mild days with temperatures in the 70’s, the inside of a parked car can reach well in the 100’s in a matter of minutes.
If your furry friend has energy to burn and needs some form of exercise in order to stay calm. Take him swimming or let him run and play in the sprinkler before heading back indoors. You can also use a cooling body wrap or vest to help keep him cool without getting him soaking wet.
if you take your dog on long walks it might be better to take him during the cooler parts of the day such as early in the morning or later in the evening. Be sure to keep water with you and let him take a break every once in a while. If you run with your dog make sure to not overdo it. Just as temperatures rise and make it harder for you to stay hydrated, it’s even more true for your pal.
If you will be hunting or hiking with your dog, or if he has a job to do such as herding sheep or cattle, be sure to give your dog several breaks in the shade and make sure he has plenty of fresh water. Wetting him down or using a cooling vest while he’s active is a good idea, and keep a close watch on him/her for the first signs of overheating. Remember that working dogs tend to become so focused on their tasks that they do not realize when they need to rest and cool down. It is up to you to monitor your dog and make sure he gets the breaks he needs to stay healthy.
Unlike people, dogs do not sweat out excess body heat. While your dog does have a few sweat glands located in his paws, these do little to help regulate his body temperature. Instead, he/she does this through rapid breathing called panting. But sometimes panting isn’t enough to keep him from getting overheated.
Heat exhaustion in dogs can occur when the body temperature becomes elevated above the normal temperature. This varies slightly, according to PetMD.com, but it’s generally agreed that temperatures of 103 degrees Fahrenheit and higher are above normal. If the temperature continues to rise and reaches 106 or higher, your best bud is in the danger zone for heat stroke, during which the organs begin to shut down and his heart could stop altogether.
Heat Stroke is a form of Hypothermia
Hypothermia is an elevation in body temperature that is above the generally accepted normal range. Although normal values for dogs vary slightly, it is usually accepted that body temperatures above 103° F (39° C) are abnormal.
Heat stroke is a form of non-fever hypothermia that occurs when heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body cannot accommodate excessive external heat. Typically associated with temperature of 106° F (41° C) or higher without signs of inflammation, a heat stroke can lead to multiple organ dysfunction.
Hypothermia can be categorized as either fever or non-fever hypothermia; heat stroke is a common form of the latter. Symptoms of both types include:
- Excessive drooling
- Increased body temperature – above 103° F (39° C)
- Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
- Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine
- Sudden kidney failure
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heart beats
- Stoppage of the heart and breathing
- Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress
- Blood-clotting disorders
- Vomiting blood
- Passage of blood in the bowel movement or stool
- Black, tarry stools
- Small, pinpoint areas of bleeding
- Generalized inflammatory response syndrome
- Disease characterized by the breakdown of red-muscle tissue
- Death of liver cells
- Changes in mental status
- Muscle tremors
- Wobbly, uncoordinated or drunken gait or movement
- Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened
- Excessive environmental heat and humidity
- Upper airway disease that inhibits breathing; the upper airway includes the nose, nasal passages, throat, and windpipe
- Underlying disease that increases likelihood of developing hypothermia, such as paralysis of the voice box; heart and/or blood vessel disease; nervous system and/or muscular disease; previous history of heat-related disease
- Poisoning; some poisonous compounds, such as strychnine and slug and snail bait, can lead to seizures, which can cause an abnormal increase in body temperature
- Anesthesia complications
- Excessive exercise
- Previous history of heat-related disease
- Age extremes, young or old
- Poor heart/lung conditioning
- Underlying heart/lung disease
- Increased levels of thyroid hormone
- Thick hair coat
- Dehydration, insufficient water intake, restricted access to water
This condition can lead to multiple organ dysfunction. Temperatures are suggestive of non-fever hypothermia. Another type, malignant hypothermia, is an uncommon familial non-fever hypothermia that can occur secondary to some anesthetic agents.
Hypothermia can be categorized as either fever or non-fever hypothermia. Fever hypothermia results from inflammation in the body. Non-fever hypothermia results from all other causes of increased body temperature.
Non-fever hypothermia occurs most commonly in dogs. It can affect any breed, but is more frequent in long-haired dogs and short-nosed, flat-faced dogs. It can occur at any age but tends to affect young dogs more than old dogs.
When a dog starts showing symptoms of heat stroke, being able to recall the temperature is important, as well as the environmental conditions at the time. Write down the dog’s activity level prior to and at the beginning of when symptoms started. This way you can give the information to your vet. If a dog was trapped in an area, such as a car, the exact temperature may not be known. All of this information will help in the treatment of the dog.
Severe signs of a heat stroke are: increased difficulty breathing, gums that are bright red, blue or purple, weakness, fatigue, disorientation, collapse or coma.
Take the dog’s temperature. A dog’s temperature is normally between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees. A dog is overheated if his temperature is 103-104 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature of 109 degrees could become fatal.
Get your dog out of the heat. Take him/her inside to an air-conditioned room. Move him or her to a shaded area outside, with a good breeze blowing. Keep them calm and restrain them from activity. Do not let them run around.
Give the dog cold water to drink. Keep the amount of the water small at first. If the dog doesn’t want water, try a cool broth, as in beef or chicken broth.
Cool your pal down with some cool water applied to his body. Not ice-cold.
Call your veterinarian. Even if the dog responds well to the cooling treatments, get to a vet as soon as possible.
Rub rubbing alcohol on the pads of the dog’s paws. Dogs sweat from the pads of their paws. Rubbing alcohol can help draw some heat out. Make sure their feet is uncovered and exposed to cool air.
Always carry fresh, cool water and collapsible water bowls to water your pet during the Dog Days of summer.
Knowing is Best
Armed with the knowledge of how to recognize overheating and heat stroke, how to respond and how to avoid it in the first place, you can look forward to a safe, fun and happy summer with your four-legged friend. Happy Tails, Happy Trails!