We are logically cautious of preventing heatstroke in our dogs during the hot months of June, July and August. We don’t leave them in hot cars, run them hard in extreme temperatures and always ensure they have access to plenty of cool water. But many people are not aware that your dog can easily become over heated in cooler months due to:
- extensive exercise on warm, humid days
- being left in a car on a relatively cool day (15˚C)
- fever from infection
- humid conditions without shade
- a disease that may affect the airway
- prolonged seizures
A dog’s normal body temperature is 38°C plus or minus 1 degree. Should his/her body temperature rise above 39.5°C, you should be ready to take emergency measures as heatstroke, or hyperthermia, is a very real concern.
If you suspect heatstroke:
- Move your pet to shaded and cool environment, and direct a fan on him/her
- If possible, determine rectal temperature and record it
- Begin to cool the body by placing cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits, and in the groin region. You may also wet the ear flaps and paws with cool water
- Direct a fan on the we areas to speed evaporative cooling
- Take your pet to your veterinarian immediately
When treating heatstroke:
- DO NOT use cold water or ice for cooling as it actually delays inner body cooling. When the skin becomes too cold, the blood vessels shrink and contract, so less cool blood is able to reach the hot internal organs. Tap water is more suitable for effective cooling.
- DO NOT overcool the pet
- DO NOT attempt to force water into your pet’s mouth; have fresh cool water ready to offer should your pet be alert and show an interest in drinking
- DO NOT leave your pet unattended for any length of time.
Please note: Simply lowering the body temperature does not address all the internal damage a heatstroke can cause. If you suspect hyperthermia, please bring your pet to your nearest CK Vet as soon as possible.