Canine Protection: A Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Summer is a fun-filled time for dogs with trips to the park, family outings and lazy days enjoying the sun. However, with too much heat exposure, a dog can suffer significant brain and organ injury and, in some cases, overexposure can lead to death. Understanding the mechanism of your canine’s body temperature control and the symptoms and treatment of canine heat exhaustion will work to aide in improving your summer plans and keep your family pet safe.

In the summer, dogs are more susceptible to heat exhaustion primarily based on the way in which the canine body works to control body temperature. Oftentimes, it is the humidity that my have a greater impact on the canine body than the heat itself. As heat and humidity rise, dogs become very inefficient at cooling themselves and will need your assistance to ensure a safe environment. Even on very mild, 70 degree, days, a dog can begin to become inefficient especially when left in a car which is often done on mildly warm days.

Canine sweat glands are located on the pads of the feet and on the nose. As your dog runs and plays, the pads of the feet are unable to perform the task of sweating and work to cool the body down. Additionally, dogs involved in significant muscular activity, dogs who are dark color coated or dogs with a heavy coat will suffer at a greater degree than dogs who do not. Brushing their coats often will help to decrease the risk of heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion symptoms in canines are very similar to those in humans. The first signs will begin with difficulty breathing or heavy panting followed by huffing and puffing or gasping for air. Your dog may begin to walk in strange patterns which may be the result of dizziness. At 105 degrees, health becomes very severe and it is difficult for the canine to regain control of the bodily functions. At this point, the canine may collapse and be unable to get up and may even appear unconscious. Disorientation will set in, the gums will turn to a muddy pink and the ears will appear flushed. At 108 to 110 degrees, the internal organs become affected and cell damage will begin to occur.

Should your canine begin to show evidence of heat exhaustion, the first step to take is to move the dog to a safe, cool environment. Air-conditioning is best. Provide the dog with plenty of water and do not use water which has been iced. It is recommended the dog be placed in a bath tub of cool water or washed with a hose of cool water and then placed in front of a blowing fan in an effort to keep the coat moist. Bags of ice should also be held against the neck and head. When suffering from heat exhaustion, do not immediately take your canine to the vetinarian as the few minutes of transport to the vet may result in more serious conditions or, in some cases, death. Once the dog’s temperature is reduced, and the dog is cooled, you may seek the advice of a vet to verify organ damage did not result from the incident.

Whatever your summer plans, remember to always include your family pet as dogs provide unconditional love and support to their owners. When afflicted with heat exhaustion, provide treatment.

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