Heat Stroke in Dogs: 5 Ways to Prevent Your Dog from Overheating This Summer
It is Summer and it is HOT! Especially here in Southwest Florida with soaring humidity and daily heat indexes hovering around 100 degrees. We humans feel the effects of the heat and know what precautions to take. It is equally important that we take necessary precautions to prevent heat stroke in dogs.
What is Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke is a term commonly used for hyperthermia or elevated body temperature. If a dog’s body temperature exceeds 103°F, it is considered abnormal. Body temperatures above 106°F are most commonly associated with exposure to excessive heat. The critical temperature where multiple organ failure and impending death occurs is around 107°F.
What Causes Heat Stroke in Dogs?
It is important to note that dogs do not sweat like humans. Instead of sweating, dogs eliminate heat through panting. They do have some sweat glands in the pads of their feet which helps with heat dissipation, but only nominally. When panting involves breathing in hot air, a dog’s body temperature rises. This can be fatal if not corrected quickly.
The most common cause of heatstroke is leaving a dog in a car without adequate ventilation. In this situation, a dog’s body temperature can elevate very rapidly, often within minutes, especially in hotter climates. Other common causes of heat stroke include: being left in a yard without access to shade or water on a hot day; being exposed to a hair dryer for an extended period of time and; excessive or vigorous exercise during hot temperatures.
Signs Your Dog is Overheating
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Glazed eyes
- Weakness and/or collapse
- Increased pulse
- Dark red tongue or gums
Heat Stroke Prevention
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help prevent your dog from getting so overheated that he/she suffers heat exhaustion or heat stroke. All five points are important but the most critical factor in preventing heat stroke in dogs is awareness by you, the dog owner. Awareness coupled with continuous monitoring of your dog is the best prevention. Also note, every dog tolerates heat different. Flat faced dogs such as pugs and bulldogs are extremely sensitive to the heat due to the abbreviated nasal passages. Dogs, such as our Florida dogs here, are more accustomed to heat than a dog from Buffalo, NY for instance. Prevention is accomplished through constantly monitoring your dog for any signs of overheating. In addition, these are five effective ways to prevent heat stroke in dogs:
1) Avoid walking during peak temperature hours. Walk in the morning or evening instead. If your schedule or lifestyle requires mid-day walks, seek out the shade and avoid asphalt.
2) Modify your exercise routine in the heat. For example: If during cooler months, you typically exercise your dog for 30 minutes a day, cut the exercise time to 15 minutes with a cool down break at the halfway mark. If you routinely run/hike with your dog, shorten the duration and take multiple breaks. In severe heat, any heat index above 90 degrees, no rigorous exercise should be undertaken.
3) Never leave your dog inside a parked car. Ever!
4) Ventilate properly indoors and out. Dogs cool through panting and airflow is key, especially in humid conditions. Keep the ceiling fans going inside and use a battery operated portable fan for extended periods outside.
5) Hydrate! Always have cool, fresh water available. When you’re out with your dog, offer water frequently. A portable water device is very convenient. We particularly like the one shown below. It performs double duty as a water container and bowl combined and clips to a waistband or backpack. When offering your dog water, stop in a shady spot and really encourage your dog to relax and drink. Some dogs get distracted by their environment and pass up the chance to drink. Be patient. With continued encouragement, most dogs will eventually drink.
Goodness for Pets is an all-natural pet supply store and boutique catering to animals and those who love them. Since 2004, we have been providing unparalleled service to our community in Naples, FL. Our goal is to be a valuable and dependable resource for our customers, offering products and services that are distinguished by quality, safety, excellence, and creativity. We specialize in holistic solutions with an emphasis on nutrition while acknowledging that each pet and pet owner has unique needs and requirements.