Dogs remain as eager to play as ever in warmer weather and with summer on the way it’s worth remembering that, as they can only regulate their body temperature by panting, they’re susceptible to heat stroke. Here are three steps you can take to help:
Dogs with heavy fur coats or short muzzles are especially prone to heat stroke. But any dog is susceptible to it in hot weather and prevention is key.
Provide your dog with shaded areas, both indoors and out, and encourage water play when outside to help him cool down. Exercise your dog early in the morning or after sunset, during the coolest parts of the day. Don’t overdo exercise or play sessions, regardless of the time of day, and on very hot days keep him indoors with a fan or air conditioner on.
Ensure he has access to a constant supply of fresh, cool, clean water. If you’re travelling, make sure your dog has adequate ventilation and never leave him in a parked car – even in cooler months.
It’s vital to ensure heat stroke is treated early, so watch your pooch for rapid breathing, excessive panting, dry gums that become pale, drooling, confusion, weakness or diarrhoea and vomiting.
If you notice any of these signs, take its body temperature (by placing a digital thermometer under his ‘armpit’ or by lubricating it and gently inserting it rectally. Alternatively, use an infrared thermometer to scan his ear). Normal canine temperature is between 38° to 39°C.
Mild overheating can usually be seen at around 39.5°C to 41°C, while severe overheating is anything above 41°C. If your dog’s temperature is high, move them to a cool area, then call your vet for advice.
If your dog is suffering from mild heat stroke, contact your vet and then try cooling your pet before taking him in. Resist the temptation to cool your dog too quickly using ice or icy water, as this could send them into shock. Instead, wrap them in cool towels, wet his ear flaps and paw pads or immerse him in cool water and turn a fan in his direction (but not directly on them). Offer him a little water at a time, as too much at once could cause vomiting.
Monitor your dog’s temperature every five to 10 minutes. Once their body temperature has returned to normal, stop cooling them and make your way to the vet.
Severe cases need a vet’s immediate help, so, if possible, have someone else drive while you try to cool them down.