Too hot to handle!
Summer time is here; which means barbecues, beach days and endless nights. But summer time also means extreme heat and health risks, especially for our furry friends. That’s why it is vital for us to know the signs of heat stroke, how to react of your dog has heat stroke and how to prevent heat stroke.
First, let’s talk about what heat stroke is. Heat stroke is a condition that occurs when the body loses the ability to control its own temperature. Humans have cooling systems that dogs don’t, such as the ability to sweat which makes them more susceptible to this condition during the summer months. Moderate heat stroke in dogs is treatable and reversible with little to no long term damage, but severe heat stroke can be fatal in dogs.
The signs to look out for in the extreme heat include a change in the color of Fluffy’s tongue, dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea. Although these aren’t all the signs, these are definitely good indicators that your furry friend might be suffering. Please make sure to know all the signs and keep an eye on your pets during the hottest days.
If you suspect that Fluffy has heat stroke, remove him from the heated area immediately. Get him under shade or preferably indoors where you can control the temperature more easily. It is vital to bring his temperature down and the best way to do this is to use cool water to wet him. Never use cold or ice water, as bringing his temperature down too fast can also be very dangerous. For small dogs it is even preferable to use luke warm water to cool them down. Once Fluffy is wet, use a fan to create a flow of air and take his temperature frequently with a rectal thermometer. Once his temperature is down to 103 degrees, stop the cooling measures, dry him off and cover with a towel or blanket to stabilize his temperature. Also make sure to have fresh cold water readily available for him to drink and never try to force feed him water. We wouldn’t want Fluffy to inhale water or choke!
Even if Fluffy looks fine, you should always take him to the vet after such an incident to make sure there’s no internal damage.
Preventing heat stroke is a matter of common sense. If it’s too hot outside, keep your pet indoors and keep their environment cooled down. Restrict outdoor activities to times when it is cooler such as early morning or later in the evening. If Fluffy has to stay outside, ensure that there’s plenty of shade and fresh cold water. To keep the water cold for longer, add some ice to his bowl. Never leave your dog outside with no shade and never leave your dog unattended in a parked car. Keeping outside activities to a minimum and ensuring to always have water on hand is the best way to keep your favorite four legged pal safe in the summer heat.
Another great tip is to make sure Fluffy has cool spots in the house even if the AC should break down. Fill plastic bottles or ziploc bags with water and freeze them, then before you head out for work, wrap them in towels and place them in Fluffy’s favorite resting spots. It might take some preparation, but prevention is better than cure!
Last thing to keep in mind is that certain factors can mean your best friend is more at risk than normal. Factors such as obesity, underlying heart or respiratory issues, thick coats and also breeds that aren’t acclimated to hot weather make Fluffy more susceptible to heat stroke. Always be aware of your dog’s breed specifications, their health and other factors that might make it harder for their bodies to control their internal temperature.
Stay cool out there and have the best summer yet, all while still keeping Fluffy safe!