Dogs and Hot Weather
Many thousands of dogs die or end up with serious long-term medical problems because of our misunderstanding of how dangerous overheating is to our pets, especially dogs
Though we have not seen any really hot weather so far this year it looks as though the bad weather and rain may be breaking.
We are forecasted to have a record-breaking heatwave sometime soon. And with that will come the major health problems of heatstroke and dehydration.
Though the UK is not a really hot climate. It can still get hot or humid. Heatstroke can seriously affect dogs within a very short period of time
We are fortunate that we can wear lighter and thinner clothing or even go naked., however, dogs have fur coats and sometimes cannot tolerate even moderate heat without suffering.
Very young and older dogs are at higher risk of heat stroke. Brachycephalic breeds (short noses), such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers are at the most serious risks
Obese, long haired, and dark-colored dogs are also at a higher risk, along with dogs with hyperthyroidism, cardiopulmonary disease, laryngeal paralysis, or thick hair coats . Yes, we can trim them. but not too short or the dog can get sunburn and the coat grows again very quickly.
It also is worth mentioning that Asphalt roads can also get hot and some days. It melts the tar. which then sticks to the pads. Pavements also get extremely hot as they absorb the sun's rays then radiate it back out burning sensitive paws. Wherever possible walk on the grass when hot.
Dogs can only sweat from their paws so they do not cool down like humans who sweat from all over their body. Panting is a cooling method for dogs, but this can leave them extremely dehydrated. We are often not aware of when dogs become dangerously affected by hot weather.
Let's be honest, we often do not notice when we have been out in the sun too long, or that we are seriously dehydrated or suffering from heatstroke. Here are helpful and life-saving tips for helping dogs stay cool in the summer months.
· Keep all water bowls topped up with fresh water., Take water with you when you go out, Avoid exercising pets during the hottest parts of the day Try and coordinate your walk so the dog can get into any water on the walk.
Buy a specialised coat that can keep them cool for up to10 hours with one soaking. The one I personally use and sell in my store is the award-winning Hyperkewl Dog Vest. Never leave dogs in hot cars it can be fatal in a very short period of time.
Dogs can get heatstroke and this can kill your dog.
These are the symptoms.
· Excessive drooling
· Increased body temperature - above 103° F (39° C)
· Bright red tongue
· Reddened gums
· Urinating only occasionally or not at all
· Rapid heart beat or irregular beats
· Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress
· Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
· Passage of blood in the faeces
· Black, tarry stools
· Small, pinpoint areas of bleeding
· Changes in mental status
· Seizures or Coma
· Muscle tremors
· Wobbly gait or movement
· Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be brought round
This is what must be done if you see any of these symptoms
Get your dog out of the heat or in shade Bring down the temperature with water all over the body, not really cold water out of the fridge, normal temperature and slightly tepid for really small dogs, Do not give the dog lots of water to drink if the dog has already collapsed as the kidneys may not be working properly. If it is unconscious do not allow any water into the nose or mouth as this can go directly to the lungs
If you can get the dog home then put it in a bathtub or shower. If you have access to a fan then pass air across the dog, check the temperature regularly. You need an old fashioned glass thermometer for this as it needs to be inserted in the rectum. Once the body temperature is back to normal 103ºF, then you can stop the cooling measures. Dry and settle down your dog in an area with a fan or a breeze.
I would strongly recommend seeing a Vet, especially if the dog had passed out or became wobbly. or if the dog has symptoms like tarry black stools, vomiting blood or blood in stools, Small, pinpoint areas of bleeding or once recovered appears to have a change of behaviour.
If you dog has already collapsed or is unconscious then suspect severe heatstroke (body temperature over 106ºF) can be deadly and immediate veterinary assistance is required. Treatment will probably include fluids and minerals replacement. Your vet will be able to identify any secondary conditions the heatstroke may have caused.
Complications such as kidney failure, development of neurologic symptoms,abnormal clotting, changes in blood pressure, and electrolytes abnormalities are typically recommended in cases of heatstroke.
Dogs with just moderate heatstroke often recover without complications. Severe heatstroke can cause organ damage that might need ongoing care such as a special diet or drugs. Dogs who suffer from heatstroke once have an increased risk of getting it again. Remember the day does not have to be bright, humid, cloudy days can cause all of these symptoms and it can happen very quickly.
Stan Rawlinson July 2016