When a dog is exposed to high temperatures in summer, heat stroke or heat exhaustion can result. This is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Unlike humans, dog’s cannot sweat through their skin. Instead, they release heat by panting and by sweating through their foot pads and nose. If the dog cannot effectively do this, the internal body temperature begins to rise. Once this reaches 41 degrees Celsius, damage to the animal’s cells and internal organs becomes irreversible and death can result.Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Heavy panting
- Dark red gums
- Tacky or dry feeling gums
- Lying down and unwilling/inability to get up
- Collapse and/or loss of consciousness
- Increased rectal temperature
Call the vet!
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you must take immediate action. First, move your dog out of the sun and begin cooling them with wet towels on the body. Do not use ice or cold water as this will cause the blood vessels to constrict and cause the internal body temperate to rise instead of lower. Offer your dog cool water but do not force it into their mouth.
However, the most important thing is to call your vet and get them in straight away! The number one factor influencing survival of heat stroke is how quickly you get your pet to the vet. Some dogs fully recover from heat stroke, but others may suffer permanent damage and require lifelong treatment. Sadly, many dogs do not survive.
To prevent heat stroke:
- Have cool, fresh water available at all times
- Avoid exercise on warm days (if its too hot for you to walk, its much too hot for your dog in his woolly jumper!)
- Have a cool, shady area available
- Never leave your dog alone in the car on a warm day, even with the windows down