Whether you’re traveling during the summer or spending time at higher elevations, becoming dehydrated can be a problem for you and your pet. Sunny days, soaring temperatures, high humidity, and lots of time outdoors can lead to trouble. Recognizing the symptoms of dehydration and heat stroke in dogs will allow you to watch your pet and act quickly if he starts to get sick.
Traveling and taking a break from your normal routine makes it more difficult to monitor whether your pet is getting enough water or over-exerting himself. Whether you’re driving in the car, romping at the dog park, playing on the beach, or hitting the trail, be sure to have plenty of water and give your pup lots of opportunities to get a drink.
Even with your best efforts, dogs get excited and might not want to stop their activities long enough to stay hydrated. In those cases, leash your dog for short breaks and encourage him to drink. And always keep an eye on him for any signs that he’s not feeling well.
Dehydration occurs when a dog does not have enough water in his body. Dogs’ bodies are about 90% water, and normal activities like panting and drooling decrease a their fluids. Just a 10% drop in fluid levels can result in serious dehydration.
Dogs can’t 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 notice any of these symptoms, you need to take quick action to protect your dog:
If 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. Call your veterinarian or find the closest emergency veterinary hospital so that IV fluids can be administered.
The best way to prevent dehydration is to make sure your dog ingests plenty of water. Always have enough water for you and your dog – when you’re hiking, he can even carry his own in a doggy backpack! And remember to take frequent breaks to get a drink.
Heat stroke in dogs is an extremely dangerous condition that occurs when a dog can no longer maintain his normal body temperature (around 101° F) by panting. Heat and humidity increase your dog’s temperature, and at 106°F his internal organs can begin breaking down. At that point, you only have minutes to cool him, or he could suffer permanent organ damage or 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 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! Dehydration and heat stroke in dogs are serious conditions that no pet owner wants to face. When it’s too warm to safely play outside, find yourself a nice fan and enjoy a good nap.
Disclosure: I am not a veterinary professional. If you suspect that your dog might be suffering from dehydration or heat stroke, call your veterinarian immediately.
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