Words by Dave Deane
In warm environments, dogs regulate their body temperature by panting. Heatstroke happens where a dog is unable to do this efficiently which can be very serious and even life threatening. An otherwise very healthy dog can suffer fatal damage from heatstroke and, the scary thing is, it can only take a matter of minutes.
It is well known that hot cars can reach dangerous levels in minutes, but we must also be equally mindful of dogs being left outside without any shade, or exercised in hot or humid conditions. Certain tarmacs and other floor surfaces can get very hot in the summer months, and we should be aware that it may be too hot for our dogs’ feet.
As much as it may seem a shame, always consider leaving your dog in the comfort of a cool house on very hot summer days.
Warning signs of heatstroke
Panting or rapid breathing, drooling, lethargy, drowsiness, being uncoordinated and eventually collapsing, vomiting or diarrhoea. If a dog is displaying any signs of heatstroke, they need to be moved to a cool shaded area and a vet should be contacted immediately. DO NOT delay in contacting your vet, but you can also follow these steps to cool your dog whilst awaiting veterinary attention.
- Move them to a cool area—preferably shaded.
- Ensure access to cool water.
- Apply cool (not cold) water to your dogs with towels. These can be applied to their back, neck and tummy/groin. The breeze of a fan can be useful.
- Continue to apply cool water to their coat until their breathing starts to settle. DO NOT USE ICE and do not cool so much that they begin to shiver.
- Contact your nearest vet as a matter of urgency
Certain dogs are at greater risk than others
Young, as well as elderly dogs, and those with thick or heavy coats are at greater risk of heatstroke. Brachycephalic breeds (those with short noses) e.g. pugs, boxers and bulldog types, are also at risk because these breeds have inefficient panting mechanisms and may be more affected by environmental temperatures. Certain diseases or medications can also make individuals more at risk.
Dave also gave us some handy tips on looking after our pets’ teeth. Click here to read more.