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How to tell if your dog is heat sick

For dogs, extreme heat is not something to be taken lightly. As the weather gets warmer, it's important to be aware of how the heat affects your puppy. For dogs, extreme heat can lead to serious and fatal conditions such as heatstroke and cardiac arrest. If you want to help your dog stay safe and cool during the summer months, here are some tips for spotting overwhelm and ways to prevent them: Even a little water does wonders for cooling your pup off.

Heat Overwhelm and Heat Stroke

Dogs, unlike humans, do not sweat in extreme heat. Your dog has a few sweat glands on his paws, but they do little to regulate body temperature. Instead, it does this by breathing rapidly with an open mouth. But sometimes rapid breathing is not enough to prevent heat suffocation.

Heat exhaustion in dogs can occur when body temperature rises above normal. Although this value varies slightly, according to PetMD.com, temperatures of 39 degrees Celsius and above are generally considered above normal. If the temperature continues to rise and rises to 41 degrees or higher, your dog is in the danger zone for heatstroke, at which time organ failure may set in and his heart may stop completely.

Warning Symptoms

Fortunately, signs of heat exhaustion in dogs are not difficult to spot. Excessively rapid breathing is the first symptom. A dog dangerously affected by heat may begin convulsions, experience vomiting or diarrhea, and may also have gums or tongue turn blue or bright red, according to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, a dog charity in the United States. To prevent and intervene in severe heat exhaustion, you may want to identify the problem before it gets worse. Early signs may not be immediately obvious, but they can also be simple things like your dog being less responsive to commands than usual. When you say his name, he may walk away instead of looking at you. If in any doubt, remove your dog from the heat. The Humane Society of the United States lists possible signs of heatstroke as glassy eyes, excessive drooling, a very high heart rate, dizziness or lack of coordination, fever, lethargy and loss of consciousness.

Risk factors

Although all dogs are at risk of heat exhaustion in some conditions, some breeds are more prone to this than others. These breeds include dogs with thick fur or long hair, very young or very old dogs, and short-headed breeds with a short nose and flat face, such as shih tzu, pug, boxer, and bulldog. Overweight dogs and those with medical problems such as breathing difficulties or heart disease are particularly susceptible.

Extremely active dogs and working or hunting dogs (e.g. shepherd dogs, retrievers and spaniels) are at higher risk, especially during the warmer months. You must be careful not to push these dogs too hard, so give them plenty of breaks to rest in the shade and always provide adequate water.

Environmental factors can also put the dog at risk. Watch out not only for high temperatures, but also for high humidity, which can increase the likelihood of heat exhaustion in dogs. There is a risk of heat exhaustion if all dogs are not provided with adequate shade or other cool places to rest. And dogs left in a car in the sun are in serious danger of hyperthermia and heatstroke.

What to Do If Your Dog Is Overwhelmed by the Heat

If your dog shows early signs of heatstroke, take immediate action to cool him down. Vetstreet recommends the following steps to relieve heat exhaustion in dogs:

  1. Immediately move your dog to a cool location, such as indoor air-conditioning or shade under a fan.
  2. Use a rectal thermometer to check body temperature. Overwhelm usually occurs when a dog's body temperature is between 38 and 41 degrees. There is a risk of heat stroke at a temperature above 41 degrees. If your dog is in the mentioned danger zone, call your veterinarian.
  3. If there is a water source nearby, such as a lake or baby pool, allow your dog to cool off in it. If not, you can also use wet clothes or towels to cool off. Place cool wet washcloths around his neck, under his armpits, and between his back legs; You can also lightly wet their ears and paws with cold water.
  4. If he is conscious and willing to drink, give him cold, clean water. Do not force as water may go into your lungs. If he does not or cannot drink water, wet his tongue with water. Do not try to make him swallow ice cubes as this can cause his body temperature to drop too quickly and cause him to go into shock.
  5. Take it to the vet. If you haven't already, call ahead so they can take action quickly on short notice.

Preventing Heat Depression in Dogs

Undoubtedly, the best treatment is prevention. You can prevent your dog from being overwhelmed by excessive heat with some simple safety practices. These include limiting exercise or outdoor activities on extremely hot or humid days, providing plenty of shade and water when your dog is outside, and never leaving your pet in a parked car under any circumstances, even if parked in the shade with the window slightly open. Even on mild days with temperatures in the 20s, the inside of a parked car can reach 50 degrees within minutes, meaning it's an extremely dangerous environment if you leave your dog even for a short time.

If your dog has energy to burn and needs some sort of exercise to stay calm, take him swimming or let him run and play under the sprinkler before heading back into the house. You can also use a cooling towel or vest to help cool your body without getting it wet. If your dog has long hair or thick fur, you can cut his hair short to help him survive the hot months, but while doing this, remember to leave enough hair to protect his skin from the sun.

Additionally, when taking your dog on long walks, choose cooler times of the day, such as early mornings or evenings (remember that hot sidewalks and asphalt can burn their paws). Make sure you have water with you and take breaks every now and then. Be careful not to overdo it when running with your dog. Just as hot weather increases your water needs during a long run, this also applies to your dog.

If you are hunting or trekking with your dog, or giving him a job such as herding sheep or cattle, be sure to take a few breaks in the shade for your dog and always have plenty of clean water available. Consider soaking him or using a cooling vest when he's active, and watch closely for signs of overheating. Working dogs are so hyperfocused on their tasks that they fail to realize when they need to rest and calm down. It's up to you to monitor your dog and give him the breaks he needs to stay healthy.

Finally, if the power goes out or the air conditioning breaks, don't forget to have a plan B for keeping your dog cool. Although being under these conditions is extremely uncomfortable for you, the situation is much worse for your dog, whose body temperature is already much higher than yours. If you plan to retreat to a cooler location, make sure your dog will be welcome to do so, too. If you don't have such luck, consider leaving him in a kennel until you can safely return him home in cooler conditions.

If you're armed with enough information about how to recognize heatstroke, how to respond to it, and how to prevent it, you can look forward to a safe, fun, and happy summer with your dog.

Jean M. Bauhaus

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