Dogs and Heat Exhaustion

Brace yourself! Summer is coming!  Summer is a favorite time for a lot of people because of the nice weather, lots of free time, and the immense number of activities there are to do.  One of the great things about summer is we can do many of these activities with our furry friends.  We can take them to the dog park or the beach, which, from my experience, dogs love.  Unfortunately, Summer also brings high temperatures that can cause problems for both humans and dogs.  One of the main dangers of the high temperature is heat exhaustion.  heat exhaustion is brought on by doing prolonged activities in extreme heat and not taking care to cool off your body.  It is especially important for you to keep an eye on your dogs because they don’t know they can get heat exhaustion and they will keep going and going far past the level of activity they should be doing.

There are many misconceptions about heat exhaustion.  One is that only dogs with lots of fur can get heat exhaustion.  This is completely false.  Yes heat exhaustion is more prevalent in big dogs with a lot of fur like German Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and St. Bernard’s; but smaller dogs like Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, and Pugs can get heat exhaustion and should be carefully looked after during those hot summer days.  Another misconception is that only older dogs are susceptible to heat exhaustion.  This is also false. all types of dogs, no matter their age or any other factors can have heat exhaustion, especially puppies who may not know their limits yet.  The important thing is to not think your dog is immune because this can happen to any dog.

It is important that you know the signs of heat exhaustion.

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1. Excessive panting

Panting for dogs is similar to sweating for humans, it is their internal bodily reaction to cool down their internal body temperature.  Any dog owner has seen his or her dog pant before; it is a completely normal thing and is usually harmless.  When you should start worrying about it is when it looks to you as if they are panting harder than normal, or if they are forcing themselves to pant faster.  Those are signs of excessive panting and could be a sign your dog is about to enter into heat exhaustion.

2.  Dehydration

This sign is a bit harder to spot.  One way you could find out is if they ignore the current activity to go looking for water or if they start drinking water from a source that they usually do not drink from.  For example, if your dog usually doesn’t drink out of a creek but one day stops playing fetch to go and lap up some muddy water from that creek, your dog is probably dehydrated.

3. Excessive drooling

This sign is fairly easy to spot.  It sometimes may be difficult to tell what is excessive and what is normal, but if you have any doubt, you should stop your current activity and try to cool your dog down.

If your dog has already entered into heat exhaustion, these are the symptoms you will see:

1. Reddened gums

2. increased heart rate

3.lack of urine production

These are very serious signs that your dog is already in heat exhaustion and could possibly go into a heat stoke.  It is at this point that you need to take immediate action in order to treat your dog. These are some immediate steps you can take:

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1. Move your dog to a cooler place, preferably with a fan

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2. Apply a cold compress to your dog’s head, neck, armpits, or belly

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3. Give your dog fresh, cold water

If none of these work, or if you don’t know what to do, take your dog immediately to the vet.  This could be a life or death issue for your dog and they have the best equipment to treat your dog.  Armed with this information, we can all enjoy our summer without having to worry about anything happening to our favorite pets.

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