Summer isn’t just approaching – it’s here, and in full force. Every day is hot and humid, it seems, and this certainly promises to be a sweltering few months ahead! That’s great news for anyone interested in going to the beach or pool, or even just anyone who prefers hot weather to the previously chilling winter we just experienced! However, for most people, your day-to-day life can become very uncomfortable and inconvenient due to the heat. Yet others have more to worry about – like dogs.
Yes, dogs actually have it even worse than you do during the winter. Imagine if you couldn’t sweat – one of our body’s primary methods of dealing with heat by cooling itself. Dogs, instead, have to try and cool off by panting with their tongues out and lolling, or just stick to the shade and air conditioning. This is not at all ideal, but that’s life. However, sometimes, dogs are placed in terrible positions where there is not just discomfort, but the potential for heatstroke and even death. When you see a dog in the back of someone’s car, even with the window rolled down a bit, that dog is in serious danger.
How to Tell it’s Heatstroke
Given how lethal heatstroke can be, it is vital that you be able to identify it and treat it immediately. But how can you tell when a dog is experiencing heatstroke? After all, just being hot causes them to behave in a number of ways; you can’t rush them to the vet every time they’ve been in the sun for awhile! Heatstroke, however, is very difficult from just being hot; it is a medical condition, and in dogs manifests in a number of ways. There are many signs of heatstroke, including…
- Quickened heart rate
- Lots of panting (more than usual!)
- More drooling
- Gooey saliva
- A bright red tongue
- Red or pale gums
- Lack of strength
When heatstroke becomes particularly bad, it often leads to seizures, a coma, cardiac arrest, and finally, death.
How to Handle Heatstroke in a Dog
If you think your dog has heatstroke, the first thing you have to do is immediately remove it from any and all hot areas. Try lowering your dog’s body temperature by wetting him using cold water – with small dogs, lukewarm water will suffice – and then increase the movement of air around your dog using a fan, so that the evaporating water can create a cooling effect. Try not to cool the dog too quickly, however, as a body temperature that is too low can be medically dangerous in its own way, and an extreme change from one end of the spectrum to the other is also quite dangerous.
When your dog recovers, try taking their temperature; if it is less than 103 F, then you’ve managed to return it to normal, and you should stop trying to cool the dog. Provide a small amount of water for them to drink in a cool area. Even while you’ve done all of this, though, you should contact your vet, and once the rectal thermometer shows that the dog has returned to a normal temperature, take your dog to your vet ASAP! Even when your dog appears to be okay, they could be suffering from a variety of different problems; it is better to be safe than sorry!