In L. A., It’s A Year-Round Threat
It’s a little known fact that our dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke than we are. Unlike humans who sweat, dogs lack the ability to cool themselves efficiently. Panting is their main means of cooling off, and it does help some, but they can easily – and quickly – become overheated.
If you even suspect that your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, don’t wait! Get him to the vet or animal ER ASAP!
An animal that’s suffering from heatstroke may display several signs:
• Rapid panting
• Bright red tongue
• Red or pale gums
• Vomiting – with or without blood
• Remove your dog from the area immediately
• Lower his temperature by wetting him thoroughly with cool – never cold – water (for very small dogs or young puppies, use lukewarm water)
• Allow free access to water, but don’t force it or your dog may choke
• Increase air movement around your dog with a fan
• Check rectal temperature every 5 minutes
• Stop cooling efforts once the body temperature is 103 degrees F (normal is 100.0 – 102.5)
• Thoroughly dry and cover your dog to prevent further heat loss
• TAKE HIM TO HIS VET OR ER – whichever is closest – even if he appears to be recovering
Dogs At Greatest Risk
• Short-muzzled breeds such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Pekingese, and Pugs
• Dogs with heavy or double coats
• Puppies under 6 months of age
• Large dogs over 7 years
• Small dogs over 14 years of age
• Overweight dogs
• Dogs that are ill or on medication
• Dogs with cardiovascular disease and/or poor circulation
• If possible, bring your pet inside where it’s cooler. Tile floors and bathtubs are great places for a water bowl and bed.
• Keep pets with health conditions like heart disease, obesity, older age, or breathing problems cool and in the shade.
• Provide access to water at all times.
• Never leave your pet in a parked car – even if you’re in the shade or plan to be gone only a short time. Temperatures inside a car can rise at a rate of 34 degrees per minute!
• Make sure dogs kept outside have access to large shady areas. You may also freeze water in plastic bottles or zip-lock bags and place them in these areas.
• Restrict exercise whenever the temperature exceeds 80 degrees. Too much exercise – even plain walking – when the weather is hot can be dangerous!
• Consider leaving your dog at home if you won’t be able to provide frequent breaks from the heat and humidity.
• Do NOT muzzle your dog.
• Avoid concrete or asphalt areas where heat is reflected and there’s no access to shade. Many a toe and testicle have been burned this way!
Wetting down your dog with cool water or allowing him to swim can help maintain his normal body temperature. If you don’t have a pool, a child’s plastic wading pool will do just fine!