by Steffi Trott
Summer is here, and with it a whole lot of fun! While you are enjoying the warm days and sunshine however, you need to make sure your dog is doing well with the heat.
Early signs of heat stroke are easily missed. Every dog owner should be aware of them and watch out for their dog’s wellbeing.
Dogs cannot sweat as humans do. In fact, we are quite unique among all animals with the ability to regulate our body temperature in extreme heat. Dogs mainly control their body temperature through panting. They only have a small amount of sweat glands on their paw pads.
So – while we can use evaporation over our whole body to cool down, our four-legged friends only have a small surface for that purpose. In combination with the fact that they are usually much more active and produce body heat by running and jumping around, this means that they often get too hot long before we do.
The first sign to watch out for is panting. Sure – panting in itself does not mean that your dog is about to have a heat stroke. But the longer the tongue gets, the more careful you should be. If your dog’s tongue is so long that the tip is hanging several inches below his teeth, it is time to take a break from playing. Bring your dog to a shady spot and offer him some water.
As your dog becomes too hot, he starts to respond slower and move erratically. Sometimes this is confused with disobedience – under no circumstances should you discipline your pup when he reacts this way! He is not trying to defeat you – he is just too hot to behave normally!
Sudden drooling – sometimes the drool can seem “thick” – in combination with the above symptoms is a sign that your dog really needs to be brought to a cool place and potentially needs veterinary care. Drooling in general should not be ignored – it is often a sign of nausea and can also indicate having ingested toxic substances.
Even though your dog is lying down his pulse might be racing.
To get a feel for your dog’s normal heart rate take it sometime while he is resting at home or after returning from a walk. Dogs’ heart rates can vary greatly depending on their age, breed and activity level.
When you see these signs, you really need to take your dog to the vet right away. In some cases of heat stroke, stools can be bloody.
When Heat Strokes Occur
Heat strokes rarely occur from lying in the shade in the yard. Most dogs overheat during physical activity – that means while playing ball, digging obsessively, playing with another dog etc. By no means should you take your dog running during the heat of the day (also because the pavement becomes too hot).
Another big danger are cars – never leave your dog in a car in the sun. Even when outside temperatures are “only” in the high 70s or low 80s, the sun can heat up the inside of cars rapidly, leading to a fast and dangerous heat stroke for dogs.
Have fun in the summer – and keep your dog safe!