After a long rainy spell in May, summer has definitely arrived in Baltimore. While the warmer weather and sunshine are a welcome change for most of us, the higher temperatures mean owners need to keep a close eye on their canine friends for signs of heat stroke.
Dogs (and cats, too) are unable to sweat like humans do. They lose small amounts of heat through their paw pads (nervous patients will sometimes leave sweaty footprints on the exam tables) but their main cooling mechanism is panting. When a dog is locked inside a very hot enclosed space, such as a parked car or a groomer’s cage dryer, or if the external temperature is very high (such as when a dog is chained in full sun on a summer day), panting is not efficient enough to lower body temperature.
Left untreated, heat stroke causes multiple organ failure and eventually death. Heat stroke is an emergency situation that needs immediate attention!
PREVENTION OF HEAT STROKE
- Breeds with short noses, such as bulldogs and pugs, are at a higher risk for heat stroke, as well as dogs with thick coats and elderly dogs.
- On very warm days, limit outdoor activity during the warmest parts of the day and seek out shade.
- Make sure your dog has access to plenty of water.
- If your dog absolutely must be outside, provide him with shade, shelter and water.
- Never ever leave your dog in the car with the windows down and the air conditioning off.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT STROKE
- excessive panting
reddened mucous membranes
rapid heart rate
elevated body temperature
seizures or ataxia (wobbly, uncoordinated)
black, tarry stools
diarrhea or vomiting
loss of consciousness
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT HEAT STROKE
Take immediate steps to implement external cooling. Spray your dog with lukewarm (not cold) water. Offer him water. Remove him from the hot environment and drive to the office with windows down or the air conditioning on high.