Generally speaking, if your dog’s temperature exceeds 103o F it is already considered abnormal. Once it reaches 106o F without previous indication of illness is attributed to heat stroke. While there are some dogs that survive heat stroke, prevention is still better than cure. So how do you prevent your dog from getting a heat stroke?
There are several ways to avoid getting a heat stroke, stay away from enclosed and inadequately ventilated spaces like cars during the summer. Wait until later to go on walks will help them avoid strenuous exercise when it’s hot outside. Provide your dog with plenty of cold water and provide shade in gardens and outdoor spaces.
What is Dog Heat Stroke?
Hyperthermia, or an elevated body temperature, is referred to as a heat stroke. Generally speaking, a pet is regarded as abnormal or hyperthermic if its body temperature is higher than 103°F. The most frequent cause of heat stroke, a body temperature above 106°F without any prior illness, is exposure to excessive external or environmental heat. Around 107°F to 109°F is the critical temperature where multiple organ failure and impending death take place.
What Signs Should You Watch Out For?
Due to the fact that canine bodies do not release excess heat as effectively as human bodies do, dogs may be more susceptible to overheating than humans. Dogs only sweat through their paw pads, unlike humans, who can sweat from head to toe to cool their skin. Dogs primarily expel heat from their bodies through panting, but when they are overexposed to hot weather, this internal cooling mechanism can become overworked.
How can you tell if your dog is becoming too hot? The following are warning signs of an overheated dog:
Excessive Panting or Difficulty Breathing
Difficulty breathing or excessive panting Your dog may be overheating if they are panting continuously or more quickly than usual or hyperventilation. Pugs and other dogs with flat faces are more prone to heat exhaustion because they cannot sweat as effectively.
Weakness or Lethargy
Overheated dogs may nap more frequently than usual or have trouble getting up or moving around.
Gums That are Vividly Red, Gray, Purple, or Bluish
Your dog may be dehydrated if their gums appear different from normal.
If you don’t intervene to cool your dog off when you notice overheating symptoms, the condition could worsen and turn into heat stroke. The symptoms of heat exhaustion are severe:
Dehydration symptoms include a dry nose, fatigue, excessive panting, and sunken eyes.
Be on the lookout for excessive or unusually thick or sticky drool.
Placing your hand on your dog’s chest close to the front elbow joint is the simplest way to check their pulse. They may be overheated if their pulse appears elevated. A dog’s average pulse rate varies depending on size; larger dogs typically have slower pulses, whereas small dogs and puppies usually have rapid pulses.
Vomiting or Diarrhea
Abnormally soft stool, or stool containing blood, is a significant warning sign of heat exhaustion.
Your dog may be dizzy from dehydration or heat exhaustion if they have trouble walking straight or keep bumping into furniture.
Regardless of the weather outside, if your dog is shaking or shivering, it could be due to heat exhaustion.
Lack of Urine
Your pet may be overheated or dehydrated if they have trouble passing urine.
Your dog may be feverish if their nose is hot and dry rather than wet and cool. An abnormal body temperature is greater than 103°F.
Your dog may experience dilated pupils, lack of coordination, or even seizures as heat stroke progresses. When a person’s body temperature reaches 106°F or higher without being accompanied by another illness, they are likely suffering from heat stroke. Body temperatures above 103°F are a warning sign of overheating.
Heat and humidity should be taken seriously because a dog could experience permanent organ damage or die from heat stroke. Remember that even if it doesn’t feel overly hot to you, there is a risk of overheating if the humidity is high. In addition to the air temperature, pay attention to the humidity, amount of time spent in the sun, pavement temperature, and water usage.
How To Prevent Heat Stroke
As mentioned earlier, it is better to prevent a heat stroke from happening than having to deal with it.
Be constantly mindful of the temperature, your dog’s level of exertion, and their hydration status is the best way to prevent them from entering the danger zone of heat stroke.
Dogs can become dehydrated more quickly than you might realize, so make sure your pet always has access to a plentiful supply of cool, clean water and that they are taking the time to drink. Give your pet fruit snacks high in water, like watermelon and berries. Additionally, your dog’s regular diet can affect how well hydrated they are because fresh food contains more natural moisture than dried kibble balls.
Dogs out playing or hiking in warm or even hot weather risk overheating. This is especially true for dogs with dark fur or overweight. Dogs with excess weight struggle to regulate their body temperature, and their dark-colored fur makes them more susceptible to the sun’s heat. Dogs not used to the heat may also be more sensitive to overheating. Give your dog breaks from walking and provide them with cool water and shade. Don’t force them to work out in the heat, especially if they are older.
Even dogs who might be considered athletic or enjoy the outdoors and regular exercises, such as golden retrievers and German shepherds, should be closely watched on warm days. Brachycephalic breeds are more prone to overheating. The U.K. study discovered that greyhounds were more susceptible to heat, possibly due to their higher muscle-to-fat ratio. If your dog is a ball maniac, who becomes fixated on playing to the point where they don’t want to stop, pay close attention to how they act when it’s warm outside. Do they appear to be panting more heavily than normal? Do they consume more fluids while playing than usual? Let your dog rest if that’s the case. Make them sit quietly in the shade until their panting lessens or stops.
Even if your dog is usually active, you should limit their time outside during hot or humid weather. Exercise when it’s cooler outside, such as early or late in the day.
Even when they are not active, dogs can still develop heat stroke. On scorching days, dogs left outside without access to water or shade risk overheating and becoming dangerously ill. On days when the temperature exceeds 85°F, keep your dog inside as much as possible. Keep your dog outside for no more than 15 minutes if you decide to go for a walk in those temperatures. If you have to spend more time outdoors on a hot day, ensure your dog has access to lots of shade or can cool off in a pool or sprinkler.
Think about the temperature of the earth! Paved surfaces have the potential to become intolerably hot, hotter than the surrounding air, which is simple to overlook. Put your hand on the ground to check the temperature; if you can’t hold it there for more than 5 to 10 seconds, it’s too hot. Ensure your dog doesn’t have to stand on the ground for too long. The heat rising from the ground can cause your dog to burn their paws, and a low-slung animal may become overheated.
Of course, leaving a dog in a hot car is hazardous, even for a short period. Leaving dogs in hot cars is the leading cause of canine heat stroke in the United States. Due to this, laws allowing bystanders to break car windows and free dogs trapped in hot vehicles are present in many states. When it’s warm outside, never, not even for a moment, leave your pet in a car by themselves.
As soon as you can, give your veterinarian a call. Even if your dog appears to be getting better, they might need to be checked for shock, dehydration, kidney failure, and other potential heat stroke complications. Your veterinarian will suggest the best course of action.
How To Cool Down Your Hot Dog?
Get your dog out of the heat as soon as possible if they exhibit heat exhaustion symptoms. Put them in the shade and spray cool water on them. You can also press a towel or wrapped cold pack against their body, close to the neck or groin. If you put them in water, make sure it’s not ice cold because that might cause their temperature to drop too low. Also, avoid submerging their head in the water. They should also be exposed to a cooling fan.
Take them to a veterinarian right away if you suspect heat stroke. Even if you think you’ve calmed your dog down, you should still see a doctor because the full effects on their health might not immediately appear. In most cases, fluid therapy and medication are required for dogs who have suffered from heat stroke.
Here are some more tips for keeping active dogs cool on hot days and giving them breaks in the shade and plenty of cool water to drink.
Your local pet supply store may carry a number of items designed specifically to keep dogs cool. Cooling vests offer evaporative cooling as well as sun protection. You put the vest on your dog after soaking it in water and wringing it out. In addition to bandanas, your dog may benefit from cooling collars that fit around their neck after being soaked in water. These neck wraps include ice packs that can be frozen again to increase cooling. Cooling mats are an additional choice. They can offer your dog a comfortable place to lie down and rest on hot days because they are made of a cooling gel.
Handlers mist their dogs with water spray during the summer when competing in an outdoor dog event. Your dog can cool off by being misted with ice-cold water from a spray bottle and having their head, neck, and body done. Some individuals also spritz the paw pads of their dogs. One thing to keep in mind is that your dog might only enjoy some of this misting, especially at first.
Can Grooming Your Dog’s Coat Short Help Prevent Heat Stroke?
While you might be tempted to shave your dog’s hair to keep them cool in the summer, the reality is that if you do, you might make them more susceptible to heat stroke. Dog coats, including the thick, double coats of huskies, Australian shepherds, golden retrievers, border collies, corgis, Pomeranians, and many others, are made to protect against the heat, despite what it may seem like at first.
Guard hairs and an undercoat make up double coats, providing insulation from the cold. Do not use the clippers; instead, choose a trim unless your veterinarian advises it due to a medical condition or excessive matting. When the undercoat is shed naturally, air can flow closer to the skin, cooling it through convection, while the guard hairs are left long to provide sun protection. To help reduce the amount of hair that wants to shed, give your dog a thorough brushing. You’ll notice a lot of shedding in the spring because nature gave your dog a summer coat to keep them cool. Your dog should have the hair that is still present once the weather warms up. A double-coated dog’s coat can suffer if shaved because the new hair will not grow as smoothly.
Even with single-coat breeds like poodles, it is preferable to trim their hair rather than give them a too-close shave, which can expose dogs to more UV rays and increase their risk of developing cancer because they have thinner skin than humans.
Keep an eye on your dog engaging in outdoor activities as the weather warms up to ensure they’re not overheating. Even though your dog may still want to play, if in doubt, err on caution and let them rest in the shade. Of course, you should never leave them in the car alone, even for a short time, whether it’s cold outside or not.