Overheating in dogs isn’t something to take lightly. As the weather warms up, it is important to stay conscious of how the heat affects your puppy. Heat exhaustion in dogs may result in severe and potentially fatal conditions like heat stroke and cardiac arrest.
Unlike people, dogs do not sweat out excess body heat. Instead, they pant, which is rapid, open-mouthed breathing, however panting isn’t sufficient to keep him from becoming overheated.
Heat exhaustion in pups can happen when the body temperature becomes rises above the normal temperature. This varies slightly, based on PetMD.com, but it is generally agreed that temperatures of 103 degrees Fahrenheit are normal. If their temperature rises to 106 degrees or above, your dog is at serious risk for a heat stroke.
Excessive panting is the initial symptom. A dangerously overheated dog, according to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, may fall or experience convulsions, display nausea or diarrhea, and might also have a tongue which turn blue or bright red. You might want to spot the problem before it gets that acute, though to intervene and stop severe overheating. Early signs are more subtle – it might be as straightforward as your dog looks less responsive to orders than normal. When you call his name, rather than turning to look at you, he might wander away. If there’s any question in any way, get your dog from the heat.
All dogs are at risk for overheating but some more than others including dogs with thick coats or long hair, very young pups or very old dogs, and brachycephalic breeds–those with short noses and horizontal faces, such as shih-tzus, pugs, boxers, and bulldogs. Overweight dogs and the ones that suffer from medical conditions that cause difficulty breathing or heart problems are particularly vulnerable.
Extremely active puppies and working or searching breeds (like shepherds, retrievers, and spaniels) are also at a greater risk, especially during warm months. You need to be careful to not push these dogs too hard, so make sure that they get tons of breaks to rest in the shade and they are well-hydrated constantly.
Environmental factors may also place a dog in danger. Be aware not only of high temperatures, but also of high humidity, which may increase the possibility of heat exhaustion in puppies. All dogs are at higher risk of overheating if they are not given sufficient shade or another cooler place to unwind inside. And puppies left in a hot automobile are in serious danger of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
What to Do if You Think Your Dog is Overheated
Vetstreet recommends following these measures to treat heat exhaustion in dogs:
- Immediately move your puppy to a cooler place.
- Use a rectal thermometer to check your dogs temperature. A temperature above 106 puts him at risk for heat stroke. If he is in the danger zone, then call your vet.
- If you are close to a body of fresh water, like a pond or a baby pool, let your dog take a dip to cool down. If not, get wet towels to cool him down.
- If he is conscious and prepared to drink, give him cool, refreshing water. Do not force it, however, as it might wind up in his lungs. If he can not or won’t drink, or can not keep down water, wet his tongue instead. Do not feed him ice cubes, which might cause his temperature to drop too fast, resulting in shock. When you haven’t already done so, call ahead so that they may be prepared to take immediate action after you arrive.
Preventing Heat Exhaustion in Dogs
These include restricting exercise or outdoor activity on overly hot or humid days, providing tons of shade and water once your dog is outside, rather than under any conditions, leaving your pet in a parked car–not even in the shade with the windows rolled down. On mild days with temperatures in the 70s, the interior of a parked car can reach 120 degrees in minutes, making this a very dangerous environment to leave your dog, even for a brief time.
If your pooch has energy to burn and requires some kind of exercise so as to remain calm, take him swimming or let him run and play in the sprinkler before heading back inside. You can even use a cooling body vest or wrap to keep him cool without getting him wet. And if your dog has long hair or a thick coat, then think about getting him a brief haircut to make it through the hot months–just make sure to leave enough fur to protect his skin from sunlight.
Furthermore, if you take your dog on long walks it may be better to take him through the warmer hours of the day such as early in the morning or later in the day (bear in mind hot sidewalks and pavement can burn off his footpads). Make certain to keep water and let him take a rest every once in a while. If you run with your dog make sure not to overdo it. As hotter temperatures make it tougher for you to stay hydrated on a wonderful run, it is even more accurate for your puppy.
If you will be hunting or hiking with your dog, or if he has a job to do such as herding sheep or cows, make certain to provide your dog several breaks in the shade and be sure he has plenty of fresh water. Look at wetting him down or with a cooling vest while he is busy, and maintain a close watch on him for the first signs of overheating. Bear in mind that working dogs have a tendency to become so focused on their tasks they don’t realize when they have to rest and cool down. It’s your responsibility to observe your dog and make sure he gets the breaks he wants to remain healthy.
Lastly, do not forget to set a strategy in place for keeping your pet cool if the electricity goes out or the air conditioner stops working. As uncomfortable as you may be under such circumstances, it is even worse for the dog, whose body temperature is already much greater than yours. If you’re planning to retreat to somewhere cooler, be sure he will also be welcome. Otherwise, think about leaving him in a kennel until it is safe for him to return home to cooler conditions.
Equipped with the knowledge of how to recognize overheating, the way to respond and how to avoid it in the first place, you can look forward to a secure, enjoyable and happy summer with your four-legged buddy.
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