While summer can mean holidays, relaxation and fun in the sun, high temperatures can also expose your dog to the risk of heat exhaustion. To ensure your four-legged family member stays safe and cool, read to learn how to prevent, detect and treat this dangerous condition.
Heat exhaustion, also known as hyperthermia, occurs when the body temperature of your pets rises beyond a healthy range and they are unable to regulate their own body heat.
As warmer summer temperatures approach, it is important to remember that dogs are particularly susceptible to injuries and illnesses associated with hot weather.
Some dogs are more susceptible to heat than others, including those with thicker fur, those with flatter faces, dogs that are overweight, the very young or senior. Dogs that are overweight are more likely to develop heat-related diseases because the increased insulation of fat cells creates more heat than they can generate during light exercise.
In summer, dogs are at higher risk of problems such as dehydration, sunburn, blistered pads and heat stroke. Heatstroke can cause organ failure, seizures, brain damage, bleeding, blindness, cramps and death and is a dangerous condition that you should be concerned about when your dog is out. While you can take steps to keep your dog cool on hot days and your dog may never develop a heat-related illness, it is good to know the signs and know what to do in case of such.
If your dog is shaking or trembling, the outside temperature may cause heat exhaustion. If a dog with heat exhaustion does not cool down and rehydrate, it may suffer heatstroke, which is a more serious condition.
If your dog appears to have trouble walking straight or repeatedly bumps into furniture, it may be frustrated from dehydration or heat exhaustion. If your dog becomes moody in the heat, pay special attention to encounters with strangers, children or other dogs, because you need to avert a bad situation before it occurs. A soft stool or stool with blood on it can also be a big warning sign of heat exhaustion.
If you know the signs of heatstroke in dogs, make sure that your dog has constant access to shade, air conditioning and fresh water.
If the dog is taken to the veterinarian, first aid treatments and attempts to lower the dog’s temperature may be successful. While it may seem logical that ice should be used to lower the dog’s temperature as quickly as possible, some veterinarians say ice can narrow blood vessels and cause more problems.
Swimming is a great way to stay cool on hot days – most dogs like it – but never leave your dog unattended in a pool or water. If you are visiting the beach be sure to clean the salt from your dogs paws as this can dry them out.
Beware of walking your dog on hot pavements, roads, sand and other hot surfaces. If it feels hot for you barefoot it will feel hot to your dog too!
As a pet parent, it is important to take the right preventive measures to protect your dog from overheating and understand how to react when your dog is stressed out by hot temperatures.
Dogs that have difficulty with hot temperatures may exhibit a combination of symptoms such as hyperventilation, excessive panting, dry gums, pale skin, increased saliva flow, erratic or fast pulse, confusion, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting and rectal bleeding. Overheating can be life-threatening if not treated, but detecting the first signs of heat exhaustion can reduce the likelihood of heatstroke.
In hot weather, we can all get a little hot under the collar, and it’s no different for our dogs. Keep them well-groomed, keep an eye on how much they are drinking (our self-cooling ceramic bowls from Magisso are the perfect water bowl in the Summer) and try and keep one room as cool as possible in the house so they have somewhere to cool down in.