The warm, sunny weather of summer is something we all look forward to every year. It means sunshine, vacation, and beach trips to all of us. Unfortunately, summertime isn’t always good news for pets. Heat stress, especially in dogs, is a not something to take lightly. Unlike humans, they do not have an effective defensive mechanism against heat and cannot communicate when they are overheating.

When the temperatures start rising, dogs usually release the excess heat through respiration (panting or sweating via the nose or paw pads). In most cases, they are able to adapt naturally to the changing climate. However, this isn’t always the case – the effects of heat on dogs can vary. Some dogs, especially those that are overweight, are more susceptible.  Also, breeds such as bulldogs, boxers, pugs and Shih Tzus are more prone to overheating compared to other breeds.

Health Risks of Heat in Dogs

When your dogs’ cooling mechanism fails, their body temperature becomes elevated above the normal temperature causing heat exhaustion. If the temperature reaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, your pooch is in danger of heat stroke, which can cause organ failure, convulsions, blindness, hemorrhages, brain damage or even death. Besides high temperatures, high humidity can also increase the chances of heat exhaustion.

Signs of Heat Stroke and Dehydration

Heat stress can lead to serious and potentially fatal conditions. However, the extent of damage usually varies based on duration and magnitude of the exposure. The more intense the exposure, the more severe the effects of heat on dogs will be. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to spot signs of overheating in dogs before things get out of hand. To know whether your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, here are common signs that you may observe.

  • Rapid or erratic pulse
  • Dry gums that become pale, grayish and tacking
  • Increased salivation
  • Hyperventilation
  • Excessive hyperventilation
  • Inattention, confusion
  • Other signs include weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and possible rectal bleeding

Safety Tips

Monitor Your Dog Closely – as with everything in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why you should pay attention to your pet’s health during hot and humid days. You need to provide plenty of water and shade, as well as limit your pet’s activity on excessively humid or hot days. Never, under any circumstances, leave your dog in a parked car. It can reach dangerous temps within minutes. Keeping a close eye on him during summertime will help mitigate the irreversible consequences of heat stress.

Remove The Dog From The Hot Area – if you notice any sign that your dog is suffering from heat stress, a fast action might go a long way toward saving his life.  Ideally, get your dog in the shade under the fan immediately or indoors where there is air conditioning. Also, do not cover him.

Help Him Cool Down Thoroughly With Cool (Not Cold) Water – gently wet his paw pads and ears with cool water. You can also place a cool wet cloth between his hind legs, armpits and on his neck. After this, you can allow your furry friend to drink small amounts of water and avoid giving human performance drinks.

Contact Animal Medical Center in Somerset PA

If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stress, you should seek emergency medical attention with your veterinarian, even if they seem to be recovering.  Heat stress can be fatal and can have negative long term effects. If you want to learn more about the effects of heat on dogs, contact Animal Medical Center today.