Dogs are eternally happy to please. Most of them will play, run, jump, or exert with their humans no matter how many hours this effort is demanded of them. Because dogs are so willing to please, sometimes it can be easy to cause them harm through overexertion. Pet owners are not always aware of just how easy it is to overheat your dog when the weather is nice, and they are engaged in a fun activity.
Dogs are not able to sweat as effectively as humans, and it can be hard for them to cool off once they are too hot. When the temperatures are high, and water is not available right away, dogs can easily get heatstroke. While people might be familiar with what heatstroke is, many dog owners are not aware of just how serious heatstroke in dogs can be. Protecting your dog from heatstroke is about protecting them from a life-threatening situation in every case.
What is Dog Heatstroke?
When dogs get heatstroke, their body temperature becomes elevated, and hyperthermia sets in. This is typically when your dog’s body temperature rises to 103 degrees or more. This can cause a situation where your dog’s body cannot get cooled down even through normal processes. When your dog’s body temperature is too high for too long, organ failure can happen, and your dog can die.
Common heatstroke symptoms are elevated respiration, dry and sticky gums, abnormal gum color, bruised appearance to the gums, lethargy, disorientation, seizures, and collapse. Dogs that have collapsed or appear disoriented might already be too sick to save. You need to respond to the symptoms of heatstroke right away to save your dog’s life.
Why You Need to Prevent Heatstroke in Dogs
There are many reasons to protect your dog from heatstroke and prevention is the best way to go.
Heatstroke is Serious
The most obvious reason to prevent this condition in your dog is to prevent them from dying. Dog heatstroke can progress very quickly from early warning signs to dire circumstances. Many people notice the signs that their dog has heatstroke when they are not near an animal hospital or a source of water, and by the time they get help, it is too late. Dogs with heatstroke can perish in a matter of an hour, so even if you have responded properly to the symptoms of the condition, you might still be too late.
Sensitivity to Heat
Due to the severity of this health issue in dogs, avoiding heatstroke is always better than reacting to it once it has happened. As an added consideration, dogs who have succumbed to heatstroke once might be more prone to it afterwards. If you live in a hot area, this can be a real risk to your dog’s well-being, and you will want to avoid heatstroke so that your dog does not suffer from lifelong sensitivity to heat.
Long-Term Health Problems
The other thing that owners need to be aware of related to heatstroke in dogs, is that dogs with heatstroke who are saved from death can still suffer long-term problems related to the heatstroke event. Organ damage and heart and lung damage can be permanent after a bout with heatstroke. In older animals or young puppies, the damage might shorten their lifespan as well.
You will always want to consider heatstroke something that should be avoided at all costs. Dogs that have been affected by this condition often suffer long-term health issues related to it, and they might not ever be able to engage in activities at the same level again.
How to Prevent Dog Heat Stroke
Since preventing your dog from overheating is the best option, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Check the Temperature
The best way to prevent heatstroke is to be conscious of the outdoor temperature. You can watch the forecast if you are thinking of taking your dog on a hike or a run, and make sure that you do not bring them with you if the temperature is over 80 degrees. You should also check the temperature of the sidewalk or ground to see if it is too hot for your hand to be comfortable. Making the pads of your dog’s feet hot or burning them can great escalate the speed at which heatstroke progresses.
Have Water for Your Dog
Make sure that you always have water with you for your dog and a collapsible or travel dog bowl so they can drink. It is imperative that you do not assume that there will be access to water when you leave home with your dog. Dogs that have heatstroke need access to water right away and trying to give it to them from your hands, or a water bottle will not work.
Allow Your Dog to Cool Off
If your dog’s nose and feet are dry and hot, or they are starting to show heatstroke symptoms, you need to give them water right away and try to find a place where you can get them wet to cool them off. You can pour water onto them from a water bottle or put them into the water if there is a lake or stream in the area that you are hiking. Make sure that you attend to signs of overheating as soon as possible to prevent heatstroke.
Preventing Heatstroke is Critical for Dog Health
Dog heatstroke is something that every owner should be able to recognize and prevent. Dogs often do not survive this condition and ignoring the early warning signs can be deadly for your pet. Make sure that you always travel with water for your dog and a travel water bowl so they can drink. You will also need to check the temperature outdoors to be sure that it is not too hot for your dog to be outside exerting. Even if your dog thinks they want to come with you when the weather is warm, you might not be able to take them along for safety reasons.
If your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, you need to take them to the vet immediately. Heatstroke is highly life-threatening, and it is often only possible to save dogs that have gotten immediate attention for this condition.
About Birch Lake Animal Hospital
The staff at Birch Lake Animal Hospital seeks to provide the best possible medical care for our highly-valued patients and clients.