Why is it that people frequently fail to think of their dogs as living breathing creatures that require the same care to stay alive as they do? At least this is the way it seems when you hear on the news how someone has again left their dog in the car with the windows up and the temperature outside is 90 degrees.
Dogs are extremely susceptible to heat stroke. Dogs are not able to sweat like humans do. They can only lose a little bit through their foot pads. And they are very intolerant of heat. You've noticed a dog panting before, well that is there type of sweating. They are exchanging the hot air in their bodies for the cooler air outside their bodies. But what happens when the environmental temperature is the same as the body temperature is called heat stroke. This is the same with humans. Not a safe or pleasant situation for anyone or any dog to be in.
What can cause heat stroke to occur?
Many things come to mind, such as already mentioned being left in a closed up car in the heat. Or over exercising in the hot weather, especially with high humidity. Certain breeds are more prone to heat stroke, such as Bulldogs or Pugs or Pekingese. Dogs like people can have health issues that make them prone to the intolerance of heat such as heart and lung disease or even obesity. Being muzzled, so they can not properly pant to relieve themselves. Not being given appropriate fresh water and shade during the hot days. Also if the dog has already suffered heat stroke once, it is now more prone.
What will you notice if your dog is developing heat stroke?
You will notice heavy panting and difficulty breathing. The entire internal mouth appears bright red and the mucous membranes are dry or any saliva is thick and sticky. Frequently the dog will vomit, losing what little fluid might still be in the body. The dog will have a rectal temperature of 104-110 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll notice your dog is weak and having trouble walking or even moving. You may see bloody diarrhea. As if this is allowed to continue without treatment the dogs lips and mucous membranes will turn gray and he will collapse. Seizures, coma and death will soon occur.
Not a pretty picture or how any pet should be allowed to die
Hopefully you have noticed your dogs condition long before the end is near. This is an emergency situation. If you are going to save your dog's life, you must act quickly. Get the dog out of the heat, into an air conditioned building preferably. If you caught it early this may be enough, keep taking the rectal temperature, every ten minutes, making sure it is coming down. Offer the dog water, but remember he may not be able to drink it if he is advanced.
If the temperature is above 104 degrees start rapidly cooling him down, gently hosing him off with the garden hose or immersing him in a kids pool or cool water or even the bathtub. Don't use ice water, you wouldn't like that and neither would your dog. Leave him in for two minutes, then put him in in front of a fan. Take cool soaked cloths and place them on his belly and groin, and underarms. Place his paws in cool water or wrap in cool cloths. Change the cloths when they heat up.
Monitor his temperature, continue the cooling process until his temperature falls below 103 degrees. At this point stop cooling your dog. You do not want to go to the opposite extreme of hypothermia shock.
AFTER you have your dog cooled down GET TO THE VET
After you have the dog cooled, you need to get to your vet. Notice how you needed to cool the dog first and then go to the vet not the other way around. The dog can die before you get to the vet in serious cases. The vet will check for an swelling in the throat or breathing problems and can medicate with steroids to assist breathing. And also the veterinarian can check for kidney functioning or irregular heartbeat, seizures or spontaneous bleeding all associated with heat stroke but can occur hours or even days after the event.
Dehydration is painful
Dehydration is painful for humans and dogs. It is completely avoidable. Common sense and love of your animal would never allow you to put your dog in harms way. Just think things through and you can avoid this very serious problem and possible cause of early death of your beloved pet.