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Heat Stroke is a Real Danger for Dogs

Buster and Ty's Hot Weather Activity

Buster and Ty’s Hot Weather “Activity”

THE WEATHER. It’s the uncontrollable variable that can quickly affect your plans when you’re traveling with your pets.

This week Austin greeted us with unexpectedly warm temperatures. As much as we were looking forward to seeing this city – recognized as one of America’s most pet friendly – highs in the upper 90s mean we’ll be curtailing our outdoor activities for Buster and Ty’s safety.

As summer arrives in all parts of the country, quickly recognizing the signs of heat stroke and knowing how to treat it could save your dog’s life.

What is heat stroke?

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.

Watch for Symptoms

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:

  • Excessive panting
  • Pale gums and a bright red tongue
  • Anxious or staring expression
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Increased heart rate and pulse
  • Thick saliva
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Collapse
  • Coma

Treatment for Heat Stroke

Time is of the essence if your dog is experiencing heat stoke. Don’t panic and follow these steps:

  • Move your dog into the shade and provide him with some water, but don’t allow him to drink to the point of vomiting.
  • Put him in a bath, pour, or gently hose cool water on him. Ice packs shouldn’t be used because you can over-cool him.
  • Massage him gently and flex his legs to encourage circulation.
  • Move him to a place with air conditioning or put him in front of a fan. Air flow will help him to cool himself.
  • Monitor his temperature with a rectal thermometer and contact the nearest emergency veterinarian.
  • When your dog recovers from the heat stroke, schedule a thorough examination with your veterinarian to rule out organ damage.

Factors Increasing Chances of Heat Stroke

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:

  • Direct sunshine
  • High humidity
  • Lack of a breeze
  • Health and weight of the pet
  • Thickness of the dog’s coat
  • Availability of fresh water
  • Recent feeding

Preventing Heat Stroke

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – so here are some ways to avoid heat stoke:

  • Do not leave your pet alone in the car
  • Minimize outdoor activities on hot and humid days
  • Exercise in the early morning and late evening when the temperatures are cooler
  • Keep your dog in a cool part of the house, like the basement or a room that is air conditioned
  • Make sure your pets always have access to clean drinking water
  • When your dog is outside be sure he has shade, gets a breeze, and consider a kiddie pool for him to cool off in

It’s disappointing to have our plans thwarted by the weather – but no activity is worth risking the boy’s health. We’ll see as much of Austin as we can in the mornings and evenings – afternoons will be spent in the air conditioning. We can catch up on work while the boys get their much-needed beauty rest.

Buster and Ty Spooning

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  • I just recently lost our dog “Scooby” of 2 years old. We got him when he was 5 1/2 weeks old. I loved this little guy. He was my boy I never had. I have 3 daughters… One of my daughters was really close to him. We recently moved to the desert, just like less then a month. That morning I did see him… Jumping and wanting a kiss. He had plenty of water and food… So I just don’t understand… My youngest went out to get him around 530pm to walk him. He was laying lifeless next to his house. It was devastating. I blame myself for not checking on him during he day. We buried him in our back yard. I cry everyday for him. He was a great lil guy. Always protected us and showed his love for all of us. I cry as I write this.. R.I.P Scooby. We love you and will never forget you.

  • I was so worried about my little Star reccently, she wasn’t acting normal and almost sent my family in a panic state. This was a very useful because I didn’t know she was getting a heat stroke till we went to her vet (she also had a mild infection, which made her even worse) she was such a little solider to withhold all that pain and we dummies not even noticing ;-;

  • Asto-lover says:

    I just recently lost my dog, Astro, to heat stroke. He was only two years old (I rescued him two months ago from a shelter) and his breed was Siberian Husky/German Shepherd/Border Collie Mix. He was such a sweet boy with one blue eye and the other brown. I miss him dearly. I’m 18 and live at home with my parents. I left a few mornings ago to work and he was safe in his crate, in my air-conditioned room. Apparently he was getting out of his crate, which had never happened prior, and my mother had my dad put him on his 150 ft. long “line” outside for the day. Well, my mother forgot to give him water; for whatever reason is beyond me. He had no shade, full sun on a 95-degree day. Needless to say, I came home to my dead baby boy, whom was lying on the lawn. I feel so bad that I wasn’t there to protect him but I also realize that I left him in what I thought was a safe environment. It’s so empty in my room without him to keep me company and welcome me back home. I will never leave another dog alone with my mother again. In fact I am not getting another until I am on my own. Don’t make my mistake and definitely don’t make my parents’ mistake. I feel like a zombie walking around now, knowing that I’ll never get to pet him again, or hug and kiss him. RIP Astro. :'( 

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