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May 04

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Preventing Heatstroke

Preventing Heatstroke PictureAs most of you already know, dogs do not sweat through their skin.  They release heat by panting and sweat through the foot pads and nose.  As the temperature increases, it’s imperative to know if your dog is succumbing to the heat by identifying the signs of heatstroke.  Dark red gums and thick saliva are indications as well as dizziness and/or disorientation.  Excessive panting and the unwillingness to get up are also indicators.

If you have even the slightest suspicion that your dog is suffering, immediate action is necessary.   Move your dog out of the heat and away from the sun right away.  Lower the dog’s temperature with cool water by placing wet rags on the foot pads and around the head.  (DO NOT use ice or ice cold water which can cause blood vessels to constrict).  Replace the rags frequently as they warm up and avoid covering the body with rags as they may trap heat in.  Offer the dog cool water to drink but do not force it into his mouth and do not let him drink excessively.  When you believe that the dog has cooled off a bit, take him to the nearest vet as an exam will be necessary to determine whether the dog suffered any internal damage.

To avoid heatstroke from occurring in the first place:  NEVER leave your dog alone in the car.  Outside temp may be 70 degrees, but inside the car will feel like 100 degrees to your dog.  If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot on the pavement, then it’s too hot for your dog to go for a walk.  ALWAYS have cool water available for your dog.  Note that certain breeds are more sensitive to heat especially if obese or short-nosed (brachycephalic), like Pugs and Bulldogs.  Extreme caution is needed when these dogs are exposed to heat.

As an aside, if you ever see a dog left alone in a parked car with the windows cracked (while their owner just ran into the store for “a minute”), contact the police and ask the customer service department of that store to make an announcement providing the model of the car with the license plate number.  Stay with the dog until the owner or police arrive.  It takes only minutes for a dog to succumb to heatstroke in a vehicle.

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