The “dog days of summer” can be deadly for dogs. When a dog is exposed to the hot sun or intense heat for a lengthy period of time it can result in heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once the signs of heat stroke are detected, there is very little time before serious damage – or even death – can occur.
Dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans. Dogs release heat primarily by panting and they sweat through the foot pads and nose. Below are some signs that your dog may be suffering from heat stroke:
NOTE: Short-nosed breeds, large heavy-coated breeds and dogs with heart or respiratory problems are at a greater risk for heat stroke.
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from heat stroke you must take the following actions immediately:
- Move your dog out of the heat and away from the sun right away.
- Begin cooling your dog with cool water by placing wet wash-cloths on the foot pads and around the head. Continue to use fresh, cool rags. Avoid covering the entire body with wet towels as they may trap in the heat.
- DO NOT use ice or ice water! Extreme cold can cause the blood vessels to constrict, preventing the core of your dog’s body from cooling and actually causing the internal temperature to further rise. In addition, over-cooling can cause hypothermia, resulting in other health issues. When the body temperature reaches 39C, stop cooling. At this point, your dog’s body should continue to cool down on its own.
- Offer your dog cool water but do not force it into your dog’s mouth and don’t let him drink excessive amounts all at once.
- Call or visit a certified veterinarian right away, even if your dog deems better. There may be internal damage as a result, so an examination is strongly recommended.