Last summer my neighbor’s little Pug died from heat stroke. How can I protect my own dog this summer? He’s a nine-year-old Golden Retriever.
Summers can pose special problems for our pets. Any pet can suffer from heat stress, but older, overweight animals and short-nosed breeds are particularly susceptible, especially when they are stressed or have over exerted themselves. The overwhelming majority of heat stroke victims we see are dogs that have been confined in a car and left unattended - even for a few minutes.
Dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke because they have only two mechanisms to cool themselves - panting and sweating through their foot pads. On humid days, they have even more difficulty getting rid of heat. You can help prevent problems by keeping plenty of fresh water always available, providing shade when pets are outdoors, avoiding excessive exercise when it’s hot, and NEVER leaving your pet in parked vehicles.
The most common signs of heat stroke are rapid breathing, excessive
drooling, bright red gums, severe weakness and depression, diarrhea, vomiting
and possibly seizures and coma. A dog’s body temperature during
heat stroke can rise to 105-110 degrees. Heat stroke causes damage to
all organs and body systems - irreversible liver and kidney damage, bleeding
into the gastrointestinal tract, and brain swelling.
Quickly recognizing the condition and immediately lowering the dog’s temperature are the key to recovery. The longer the animal’s temperature stays elevated, the greater the damage to vital organ systems.
Following an initial phone consultation with a veterinarian, bathe the dog with cool water before transporting it to the veterinary hospital. Roll down the car windows to increase heat loss. At home, use a fan to promote cooling.
Your veterinarian will continue aggressive efforts to lower the dog’s temperature using cold water and IV fluids to treat the shock. The prognosis depends on how long the temperature was elevated.