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When summer temperatures rise, the risk of heat stroke in dogs increases. Just like humans, our furry companions need to be hydrated regularly when out in the sun. It seems that with the onset of summer, many questions related to heat exhaustion and heat stroke in dogs arise. Here are some of those commonly asked questions.

How hot is too hot?

Fun-packed days outside with your dog can become dangerous in a hurry. Be sure to keep plenty of fresh water on-hand and plan play days in locations where shade is abundant. Be mindful of differing temperatures when traveling to far-away locations. If you and your dog are accustomed to cooler climates, traveling to warmer climates will require some acclimation. Don’t get caught in a dangerous situation just because you didn’t so the research. Spend time getting acquainted with your destination, so you can be as prepared as possible.

Which breeds are prone to heat stroke in dogs?

Breeds with shorter noses like Pugs, Boxers, and Bulldogs tend to be more at risk, due to the size and shape of their canine airways. Studies have reported that Belgian Malinois, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers have an increased risk of canine heat stroke as well. Small breeds are known to be affected less than large breeds of dogs. However, this could be due to the fact that small breeds don’t exercise as frequently with their owners. Dogs don’t have the same sweat glands that we humans do, so cooling mechanisms are mainly restricted to panting. It is also known that dogs slightly sweat through the pads of their feet.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion in dogs?

Common symptoms include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Heavy panting
  • Inactivity, slowness
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Red gums
  • Dry mucous membranes (cotton mouth)
  • Loss of coordination, changes in personality

What should I do when dog heat stroke symptoms occur?

If you see signs of heat stroke in your dog, seek your veterinarian’s care immediately. Lifelong damage can occur if a dog’s core body temperature exceeds 104 degrees, and stays that way for too long. A typical body temperature hovers around 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. For emergencies where you can’t make it to a veterinarian, motivate your dog to intake water and try to cool their body temperature by setting up shallow pools of cool water. Ice packs help lower the body temperature as well. Apply ice packs to the groin and armpit areas, but don’t leave the packs in place for too long. Doing so will put your dog at risk for hypothermia. Remember, chilled remedies are safer for your pet than cold remedies. Ice water and frozen packs left in place too long can do damage, so be mindful when tending to your dog’s heat exhaustion and heat stroke symptoms.

What happens to my dog when he/she gets heat stroke?

Dogs that are left untreated can develop serious health problems. Here are a few of those issues:

  • Clotting difficulties
  • Kidney failure
  • Brain damage (possible seizures)
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Organ dysfunction

Do they make sunscreen for dogs?

Our dogs love the outdoors, but excessive temperatures are dangerous and precautions should be put in place. Visit your veterinarian and see if a skin applicant is right for yours. Sunscreen for dogs have become somewhat popular and it’s worth consulting a pet care professional on the topic. It just may be right for you and your dog.

If you’re planning a day outdoors and the heat is on, plan appropriately. Furthermore, note the heat index of the location you’re planning to visit. Consider getting outdoors with your dog during the cool parts of the day. Provide shade for cooling off when your dog needs a break. Oh, and enjoy your summer dog lover!

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