Guest writer- Jayda, AKA: Piggy
Heat Stroke: Preventing it and recognizing it
My name is Jayda (AKA: Piggy) and I live with Rachael, one of the Veterinary Technicians here at Crossroads Animal Hospital. I am a 3-year-old pit bull and I spend a lot of time with my friends at the hospital, both two-legged and four-legged. I am here to tell you about Heat Stroke.
Did you know that dogs don’t sweat? Well, we do sweat a little through the pads on our paws, but not enough to regulate our body temperature. Heat stroke (hyperthermia) is a very serious condition that can happen even on a somewhat cool day. Our normal body temperature is 100-102 degrees. Reaching 104-106 degrees would be considered moderate heat stroke and dogs can recover quickly if given proper attention. Temperature over 106 degrees can be deadly! Obesity, heart conditions, breathing problems and older pets are at a higher risk of heat stroke. Or even dogs like me who just don’t do well in the heat!
Here are some tips to help you prevent heat stroke in your dog:
- Do not leave your dog in the hot car! Even on a 70 degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 99 degrees in 10 minutes! If you have errands to run, it is best to leave us at home.
- Make sure dogs that are outside have access to shade.
- Allow your dog to swim or wet him down to help him keep cool. I love to swim, but I tend to sink, so I have to wear a life vest!
- It is NOT advised to take us on hikes or long walks on very hot days. Doing so will definitely cause our body temperature to rise. The hot ground can also harm the pads on our paws.
- Make sure your dog has plenty of water to drink.
- If you have to leave your pet home while you work, leave the air conditioner on or a fan on so he has a place to keep cool.
Some signs to look out for:
- Higher body temperature
- Excessive panting and signs of discomfort
- Vomiting (sometimes with blood) and diarrhea
- Bright red tongue
- Red or pale gums
If you think your dog is experiencing heat stroke, it is important to get him out of the heat and cool him off right away. Put him in a bath tub or use a garden hose and run cool water over his entire body. Try not to use COLD water as cooling him off too quickly can cause the body temperature to get too low and cause more problems. Keep his head elevated to prevent water from going up his nose or down his throat, which could cause aspiration pneumonia. Cool him down and bring him to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Heat stroke can cause other complications (dehydration, brain swelling, kidney failure, respiratory distress, heart abnormalities, etc.) and your veterinarian can help treat accordingly.
Overall, just keep us cool and hydrated during the hot summer months. My friends at Crossroads are always here to help, but they would be sad to see an animal suffering from heat stroke.
Hugs and (slobbery) kisses,
(Jayda was not harmed in the taking of this picture. She was in there for 2 minutes just to take it. Picture courtesy of Rachael-Veterinary Technician.)