Heatstroke. Many areas of the country are already experiencing higher than average temperatures, and summer hasn’t arrived yet. It’s not usual for pet owners to take their four-legged friends on outings during the spring months, but it is important to understand that heat stroke in your pet can occur in relatively mild outdoor temperatures if precautions aren’t taken. For example, combining a fun outing with your dog with a couple of stops at the store, post office, and dropping off dry cleaning may seem like a wonderful way to accomplish your tasks and still have fun with your pet. The problem with this scenario lies in the fact that unless each of your stops is pet-friendly, you put your pet in danger of heatstroke.
Temperatures inside a vehicle climb quickly, and your pet can be in serious danger being left inside your car even if it is only 85 degrees outside. The temperature inside a vehicle can climb to 120 degrees within 20 minutes when temperatures reach 80 degrees outdoors. Leaving windows cracked for ventilation can help to some degree, but when the air is especially humid and there is no breeze flowing through the cracked windows, you’ve not provided much relief for your pet.
Symptoms of heat stroke in your dog can include:
- Open mouth
- Bright red gums
- Excessive drooling
- Unsteady gait
Dog breeds with flat faces are more susceptible to heat stroke than other breeds, as are young pups and older dogs.
If you believe your dog is suffering from a heat stroke, bringing down his internal body temperature is imperative to saving your dog’s life. Bring your dog inside to a cool area immediately should you begin to notice heat stroke symptoms. Cool your dog down by soaking him in cool or lukewarm water. Offer him water to drink, but do not attempt to force feed the water. Take your dog’s temperature rectally. A dog’s normal temperature is 101.5 degrees. Brain damage can occur when the body temperature reaches 106 degrees. Continue to monitor your dog’s temperature every ten minutes. Do not remove him from the cool water bath until his body temperature has dropped to 103 degrees.
If your dog’s temperature rises while in the cool water, or if he acts differently once his body temperature has returned to normal, seek the advice of an emergency veterinary clinic. It is always advisable to have your pet checked out by his normal veterinarian if you are concerned that he or she has suffered a heat stroke.
Remember, the warmer temperatures will require extra hydration for your pet. Always keep plenty of fresh water available, whether at home or away from home for the day. If your pet frequently takes trips with you – even short trips – it’s advisable to keep an extra water bowl in your vehicle and always bring along extra water for your pets.