Summer. It’s the most popular time of the year to vacation with your pets, but it can also be the most dangerous. Sunny days, hot temperatures, high humidity, and lots of time outside can lead to trouble – even when you’re trying to be careful!
Being away from your normal routine makes it more difficult to monitor whether your pet is drinking enough water or over-exerting himself. Knowing the symptoms of dehydration and heat stroke will allow you to keep an eye on your pet and act quickly if he starts to get sick.
Dehydration occurs when a dog does not have enough water in his body. Dogs’ bodies are 90 percent water, and normal activities like panting and drooling decrease a their fluids. And just a 10 percent drop in fluid levels can result in serious dehydration.
Dogs can’t always tell you when they’re thirsty, so having fresh, cool water available to them at all times is a good idea. Still, sometimes they get busy fetching, hiking, or treeing squirrels and forget to stop for a drink. If you see these symptoms, you need to take quick action to protect your dog:
When you think your dog might be dehydrated, the primary objective is to get him more fluids.
If your pup is severely dehydrated, it can be a critical emergency. You need to call your veterinarian so that IV fluids can be administered.
The best way to prevent dehydration is to make sure your dog always has access to fresh, cool water. When your hiking be sure to carry plenty of water for you and your dog – or get him to carry it – and take frequent breaks to get a drink.
Heat stroke occurs when your dog can no longer maintain his normal body temperature (around 101F) by panting. Humidity and heat combine to increase his temperature and at 106F his internal organs start to break down. At that point, you only have minutes to cool him or he could suffer permanent organ damage or even die.
Often people don’t recognize the symptoms of heat stroke and lose critical treatment time. Very humid days – even if it’s not all that hot – can also be problematic, so always watch your dog for these signs:
Time is of the essence if your dog is experiencing heat stoke. Don’t panic and follow these steps:
Something as unique as your dog’s temperament can elevate his body temperature. For example, a pet that is anxious, excited or frightened, or one that barks excessively, is more likely to get heat stroke than one that is calm or quiet. Also, dogs with short noses, like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shar-Pei are more likely to have heat-related problems, because they have less tongue area to dissipate heat. Other factors that can play a part in heat stoke are:
Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – so here are some ways to avoid heat stoke:
It’s disappointing to have your plans thwarted by the weather – but no activity is worth risking your pet’s health. Ty’s advice is to find yourself a nice fan and enjoy an nap on days when it’s too warm to safely play outside.
Disclosure: I am not a veterinary professional. Please, if you even suspect that your dog might be suffering from dehydration or heat stroke, call your veterinarian immediately.