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The days are getting longer and hotter! You may not know it, but dogs can get heat stroke just as easily as we can and with warm, sunny days ahead, outdoor activities are sure to be a go-to adventure for you and your pups.
What causes heat stroke?
Like us, a dog’s body operates best in a very small temperature window (typically, 99-102 degrees). Above certain temperatures, their bodies will break down. Que the heat stroke. The most common cause of heat stroke is leaving the dog in a car with poor ventilation. The dog’s body temperature can elevate very fast, even within minutes.
It is crucial to remember that dogs do not control their body temperature by sweating like we do. They control their body temperature by panting.
Other common causes of heat stroke include being outside in high temperatures for too long without shade or access to water and excessive exercise during peak times of the day.
Dogs with restricted airways, like Pugs, Boxers and Bulldogs are at greater risk because they don’t receive as much oxygen as quickly as long snout dogs like Labs and Golden Retrievers.
The key to remember is that heat stroke is not an immediate reaction when a dog is struggling in the heat. It starts with heavy panting and restlessness, then progresses to weakness and an inability to move, and in extreme cases, followed by profuse vomiting and diarrhea.
If a heat stroke goes untreated, then multiple systems in your dog’s body will get involved to try to solve the problem and they begin to go into shock because oxygen is not being delivered to their organ tissue and they begin to shut down.
Rapid treatment is crucial to help your dog if they are experiencing heat stroke. Immediately cool them down with cold water the moment you suspect heat exhaustion. Cooling their paw pads will also help cool them down quickly. Once you cool your pup down, immediately take them to their veterinarian.
Avoiding Heat Stroke
There are several ways to avoid heat stroke in the middle of the dog days of summer. You can start by planning outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day like early mornings or evenings. Also, be sure that your dog always has access to shade and water. Keeping their water cold and fresh will encourage them to drink more. If your pup loves the water, fill a kiddie pool in your backyard, so they always have access to a cooling mechanism.
There are also a wide variety of cooling devices available for your convenience, like sleeping pads, dog houses, and collars that are available in your local pet stores and Amazon.
As always… When in doubt, err on the side of caution and head to the vet if you are unsure of your pup’s symptoms.