It’s sweltering outside, and dog owners will want to look out for signs of heatstroke in their dog. Here are five things you should NEVER do.
Here in New Jersey, we’re currently in the middle of a heatwave. My dog Charlie has been inside for the past few days – partly because he keeps barking at all the people who are somehow still going to the beach, but also because we’re trying to keep him safe from the sun. As an older, long-haired dog, he’s vulnerable to heatstroke.
Heatstroke can be dangerous, even deadly, for dogs who spend too long in the summer sun – and mismanaging it can make the damage even worse. If you think your dog is at risk, or showing signs of heatstroke, here’s what you shouldn’t do.
Do Not Exercise Your Dog in the Heat
At the moment, Charlie spends most of the day inside with the air conditioning. We take him for short walks in the early morning or in the evening, but never in the middle of the day. When I walk him, I try to keep him in the shade.
In severe heat, even twenty minutes to half an hour can be dangerous for your dog. If it’s feeling too hot for you to go outside, your dog probably feels the same way – and you’re not wearing a fur coat!
If your dog is in one of the at-risk categories for heatstroke, you’ll want to be extra careful. Brachycephalic breeds are vulnerable because of their common respiratory issues. Meanwhile, long-haired breeds tend to be suited for colder weather, making them sensitive to heatstroke during the summertime. Older dogs or dogs with preexisting health problems, including previous incidences of heatstroke, are also susceptible.
Do Not Leave Them Outside if You Suspect Heatstroke
If your dog begins displaying signs of heatstroke, you need to bring them inside immediately. These signs include dehydration (your dog must ALWAYS have water available), excessive panting or hyperventilation, drooling, lethargy, elevated temperature, or delirium.
Other signs include restlessness, fever, and vomiting. If your dog’s nose is dry or their gums and tongue are turning white, they probably have heatstroke or are at risk of developing heatstroke.
When it’s hot outside, you should be watching for these behaviors; the longer they spend in the heat, the more likely they are to get heatstroke. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, you must get them out of the heat and into a shady, cool environment as soon as possible.
Do Not Give Them COLD Water If They Have Heatstroke
Once you get your dog inside and start helping them cool down, your first instinct might be to give them cold water or get them as cold as possible. This is never a good idea. Once in from the heat, cooling your dog down too quickly can induce shock.
Experts advise dog owners to put their dog in a cool (but not cold) place with a moving air current (a fan can work for this) and allow their dog to drink some lukewarm water. You might also want to try covering them with a wet towel or dabbing their footpads with cool water. If they begin to shiver, though, you’re probably going too far.
Recovering from heatstroke can be a slow process, and trying to speed it up will likely make matters worse. Be careful during this stage, and let your dog get some rest.
Do Not Assume They’ll Be Okay Once They Cool Down
If all goes well, your dog should begin feeling better after you cool them down and let them rest for a while. However, you shouldn’t take chances with heatstroke – after cooling them down, you should take them to a vet.
A veterinarian will be able to ensure that their temperature has fully stabilized. They’ll also have to check that your dog hasn’t suffered any lasting damage to their health. The more dangerous effects of heatstroke can include damage to the respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems.
Finally, you’ll want to be on the watch for further signs of heatstroke after the first time your dog suffers from it. Dogs who have experienced heatstroke are more vulnerable afterward.
We’re currently in the worst part of the summer, and any dog owners out there will want to be careful when they take their canine companion out for a walk. If you start seeing signs of heatstroke, your dog’s health could depend on how you react.
What sort of climate do you and your canine friend live in? Is heatstroke something from which your dog is at risk? Remembering that “prevention is better than cure”, let us know what steps you take to protect your furry loved ones in the comments section below.