A quick visit to the swimming pool, the local creek, or the ocean helps us stay cool during the “dog days” of summer.But what about our best friends, the dog – how do we keep them cool?
The owner was frantic. Just an hour before, her Lhasa Apso, Gizmo was playing in the yard. Now he was listless and having trouble breathing.
Racing him to the nearest veterinary clinic, a concerned veterinary technician informed her Gizmo's temperature was over 106 degrees – he was suffering from heat stroke. Luckily for Gizmo – and with the help of a fast acting owner and the veterinary team – he recovered fully.
Every summer, hundreds of dogs end up in the animal hospital spending just a few hours in the hot sun.
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It is important to remember dogs do not sweat like we do. Dogs cool themselves by panting; moisture evaporates off their tongue and lowers their body's temperature. Anything overwhelming this natural cooling system leads to heat stroke. With more families away from home during the day, our dogs are often left outdoors where it may be hard to find shady, cool places and cool water to drink.
A dog's normal body temperature ranges from 100 to 102.5 degrees. In cases of heat stroke, temperatures over 106 degrees are considered to be an emergency situation – temperatures over 110 degrees can be fatal in a matter of minutes.
This level of hyperthermia (higher than normal body temperature) can affect every major body system and it's imperative you get your pet to a veterinarian as soon as you safely can.
Dogs who succumb to heat stroke often show the following symptoms:
• Vigorous panting
• Inability to stand, or weakness while standing
• Thick, ropy saliva, hanging copiously from the mouth
• Bright red mucous membranes, although some dogs may show pale or even muddy gums.
Heat stroke can affect any dog, but the dogs with short faces, such as Boston, Pugs, and Bulldogs may be at higher risk due their inability to effectively pant and cool themselves.
Many people believe that their pet will be fine outdoors. However, inadequate shade and/or water can affect even the most seasoned outdoor dog.
However, heat stroke in cats is very rare.Most animal experts believe that cats are extremely good at finding the coolest spots to lay and also avoid the excessive, excitatory exertions that many dogs seem to thrive on, such as squirrel chasing.
If you discover your dog vigorously panting on a warm summer day, immediately move the pet out of the yard and into a cooler place.Getting your pet into a shady area with a fan running on him can be very helpful. Using cool, not cold, tap water on the legs and body can also help to effectively lower the body temperature, as well as rubbing alcohol placed on the skin of the stomach. Use cool water, not just ice or extremely cold water. Although it seems logical, extreme cold will cause surface blood vessels to contract, forming an insulating area that traps heat in the body, delaying the cooling of the vital organs.
Attempting to force your pet to drink is also not advisable. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, immediately load your pet carefully into a car and go to the veterinarian. Never leave your pet alone in the car, even if the windows are cracked.
Without these life saving steps, many dogs might develop heat stroke and lose their lives to the “dog-days” of summer. But, as Gizmo will testify, quick thinking owners and veterinary professionals can help get them back on their feet in no time.
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