Dogs and heat stroke

Now that summer is in full swing, I wanted to talk about something that is extremely important for dog owners: watching out for heat stroke.

Dogs don’t cool down the same way as humans do.  Instead of sweating, panting is the main way that they keep themselves cool on a hot day.  A dogs tongue is thinner and longer than a humans.  When a dog pants, it is pushing air across its tongue and cooling the blood that is circulating through.  This is why a dog will take short, quick breaths when it is hot.

Tsuki after running around with the Frisbee

Dogs also have sweat glands on their paws and their nose, but these factors still make it more difficult for a dog to keep cool than a human.  Because of this, you need to be very careful with your dog in the summer heat.

A dog’s normal temperature is about 101°F (about 28 C).  Anything above 104°F (40 C) is an emergency situation.  Heat stroke can be deadly, or can cause permanent injury to the brain and other internal organs.  More than anything, you need to be aware of what is normal for your dog.  If it is panting too much, or will not get up, or is drifting out of consciousness you need to take immediate action.

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from heatstroke, wrap a wet towel around their head and body.  After that, I recommend giving them a bath of lukewarm water.  Don’t give them a bath with water that is too cold, as it will actually cause a worse reaction.  If you give them a bath with water that is too cold, the blood vessels in their skin will contract, which will push the heat further into your dog’s body.

The best thing to do in the summer is to restrict your dog’s activities when it is hot outside.  Don’t let them run around during day in the summer, and watch out for any signs that your dog is overheating.  And definitely do not leave your dog in the car.  A car can get hot enough to kill in a matter of minutes.

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