This information is cited from Dr. Karen Becker of www.mercola.com
By Dr. Karen Becker
The hot summer months are almost upon us, and tragically, many pets will succumb to heat-related deaths between now and the arrival of cooler weather in the fall.
Most cases of dogs dying from heat exposure go unreported, so no statistics exist on how widespread the problem is. But estimates are that several hundred dogs suffer this slow, agonizing and entirely preventable fate every summer.
The loss of a beloved pet is hard enough when death is expected and the passing is painless. But losing a furry family member to an avoidable case of heatstroke is something many pet owners can never forgive themselves for.
Leaving a dog unattended in a vehicle in extreme temperatures is currently a criminal offense in a handful of states and several cities and towns. Most of the laws on the books have rescue provisions that allow certain individuals – typically police officers, firefighters, animal control officers, and store employees – to take whatever action is necessary to free an animal from a vehicle in dangerously hot or cold weather.
No matter where you live, if you see an animal left in someone else’s parked car in the heat, notify a store employee or mall security right away. If the pet’s owner can’t be located immediately, animal control or the police should be called. A pet can suffer permanent damage or death in a very short time when left in a parked vehicle on a hot day.
Symptoms of overheating in dogs include:
|Heavy panting||Elevated body temperature|
|Excessive thirst||Weakness, collapse|
|Glazed eyes||Increased pulse and heartbeat|
|Vomiting, bloody diarrhea||Seizures|
|Bright or dark red tongue, gums||Excessive drooling|
Some dogs are at higher risk for heat-related illness than others, including brachycephalic breeds (dogs with flat faces and short noses), older dogs, puppies, dogs that are ill or have a chronic health condition, dogs not used to warm weather, any dog left outside in hot weather, and dogs that are allowed to overexert themselves in the heat.
How to Help an Overheated Dog
If you think your pet or any dog is experiencing heatstroke, you should take immediate action and move him to a cool area, preferably with air conditioning. At a minimum you should move him to a shady spot.
Next, try to determine his condition. If he’s standing, or if he’s at least conscious and panting, offer him small amounts of water to drink and take his temperature if possible.
If his temp is 104ºF or lower, remain with him in a cool environment, watch him carefully and keep offering small drinks of water. A large volume of water all at once might cause him to vomit, which will add to the risk of dehydration. When he seems more comfortable, call your veterinarian for next steps. The vet may want to evaluate your dog even if he seems fully recovered.
If the dog is unable to stand on his own, is unresponsive to your voice, touch or the sight of you, or is having seizures, check for breathing and a heartbeat. At the same time, have someone contact a veterinary hospital (or make the call yourself if you’re alone with your pet) to let them know you’ll be bringing him in right away. It’s important to alert the clinic you’re on the way so they can prepare for your arrival.
Begin cooling your dog down by soaking his body with cool water – cool, but not cold. Use a hose, wet towels or any other source of cool water that is available. Take his temperature if possible. Concentrate the cooling water on his head, neck and in the areas underneath the front and back legs. Carefully cool the tongue if possible, but don’t let water run into the throat as it could get into the lungs. Never put water in the mouth of a dog that can’t swallow on his own. Put a fan on him if possible – it will speed up the cooling process.
After a few minutes, re-check his temperature. If it’s at or below 104ºF, stop the cooling process. Further cooling could lead to blood clotting or a too-low body temperature. Get the dog to a veterinary clinic right away, even if he seems to be recovering.