Unlike people, dogs cannot lower their body temperature by sweating.
In fact, the only few sweat glands that they have are on the pads of their feet. Therefore, they do not tolerate high temperatures as well as we do.
To lower their body temperature, dogs pant. But as you can imagine, if the environmental temperature is very high, panting is not an efficient way to cool down!
It is therefore extremely important to keep our dogs cool in hot summer days to avoid heat stroke.
Causes of Dog Heat Stroke
There are numerous situations in which dogs get heat stroke. For example:
- Exercising strenuously on a hot humid day.
- Being left in a car with windows closed on a hot day.
- Being confined on concrete or asphalt sufaces.
- Being confined without shade and fresh water on a hot day.
- Being muzzled while put under a hair dryer.
In addition, some dogs are at higher risk of having heat stroke. They include:
- Brachycephalic dogs (short-muzzled dogs) such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzu and Boston Terriers.
- Dogs with a thick coat.
- Obese dogs.
- Older dogs.
- Dogs with a heart or lung disease that causes respiratory problems.
- Dogs having a high fever.
- Dogs suffering from seizures.
Symptoms of Dog Heat Stroke
A dog suffering from heat stroke starts with heavy panting and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms associated with dog heat stroke includes:
- Thick and tenacious saliva.
- Bright red tongue and mucous membranes.
- The rectal temperature can go up to 104°F to 110°F.
- The dog will likely vomit.
If quick treatment is not received, the dog starts showing signs of unsteadiness. He may also pass bloody diarrhea.
He then will suffer from shock and his lips and mucous membranes will turn gray. This will be followed by collapse, seizures, coma, and eventually death.
Treatment of Dog Heat Stroke
Heat stroke in dogs requires quick and emergency treatment.
Immediate measures to cool down the dog are essential to avoid brain damage which can occur rapidly – usually in just a few minutes.
If your dog is showing signs of heat stroke, move him out of the source of heat immediately, e.g. into an air-conditioned room.
Take his rectal temperature and monitor his temperature every 10 minutes.
If the rectal temperature is over 104°F, lower the dog’s body temperature immediately by spaying him with water or immersing him in a tub of cool water for up to 2 minutes.
Never use very cold or ice water to cool down your dog. Cold water causes constriction of the surface blood vessels and slows down the transfer of heat from the body to the outside.
You may also wipe the dog’s paws with cool water and apply cool packs to his groin area.
Continue the above cooling process until the rectal temperature falls below 103°F.
Then stop the cooling process and dry off the dog. If the dog is cooled down further, he may develop hypothermia (low body temperature) and shock.
It is essential to take your dog to the vet for a thorough physical check-up after an episode of heat stroke to make sure there is no permanent damage caused by the heat stroke.
Prevention of Dog Heat Stroke
There are quite a few things that can be done to prevent heat stroke in dogs, for example:
- DO NOT leave your dog in a car with the windows closed.
- Allow your dog to exercise only moderately on a hot summer day. Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water during breaks.
- Outdoor dogs whould have their resting place in a shady area to avoid the heat from the sun, and should have access to fresh water at all times.
- Dogs with respiratory disorders should be kept indoors with the fan or air-conditioner on during the hottest time of the day.
A Cool Product to Prevent Dog Heat Stroke
Check out this effective product that can keep your dog cool on a hot humid day and prevent him from getting heat stroke: