Dog in the grass drinking water from a transparent bowl

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Summer is a fun time in the great outdoors for our dogs who love to play, walk and explore with us from dawn until dusk. However, the high heat and humidity can be very dangerous for them. Before you go out with your dog, here’s what you need to know about heat exhaustion in dogs and how to protect your puppy from high temperatures.

Are dogs heat exhausted?

People get sick from the heat and so do dogs. Dogs are more susceptible to heat exhaustion than humans because of how the canine natural cooling system works. “Rather than sweat like people, mainly dogs gasp or try things like lying on a cool surface to lower their body temperature. However, this may not be sufficient in some situations and a potentially serious health situation could develop, ”says Susan Boeving, DVM, of Southlake Crossing Veterinary Clinic in Southlake, Texas.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion in dogs

Symptoms of overheating vary, but all are red flags. According to ASPCA, watch for signs such as:

  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing

  • Increased heart and respiratory rate

  • Vomiting

  • Bloody diarrhea

  • Drool

  • Slight weakness

  • Stupor or collapse

How to tell the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke

“We don’t necessarily differentiate between heat exhaustion and heat stroke in dogs because responses to high body temperature can vary,” says Boeving.

“Your dog’s breed, body condition, underlying medical conditions, and environmental conditions all affect how well he tolerates an increase in temperature,” she explains. “For example, if your dog overheats and his temperature rises from the norm of 101 to 102 degrees to over 105 degrees, he may experience heatstroke and potentially die. But some dogs with the same temperature may be fine after having spent time in a cool room with water. “

How to Treat a Heat Exhausted Dog

“If your dog shows signs of overheating, move him to a cool place. Wet his body with towels soaked in cold or ice water, and keep his head elevated so that water does not get into his nose or his mouth, ”says Boeving. . “Repeat this process until his temperature drops to 103 degrees. Avoid ice baths, ice packs, or cooling your pet too quickly. These practices can cause blood vessels to contract, slowing blood loss. heat.”

Boeving advises to give your dog cool water to drink, but not in excessive quantity (otherwise he risks vomiting), and to refrain from giving him aspirin or other human drugs unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian.

She also recommends calling your vet or emergency vet clinic for additional advice (such as how to check for signs of shock) and then going there for help. Even if your dog appears to be doing better, he should be examined for internal damage, possibly treated for lost fluids, and then watched for complications.

Long-term effects of heat exhaustion in dogs

“Dogs can recover from heat exhaustion, and many dogs whose condition progresses to heat stroke can also recover completely,” says Boeving. “However, long-term medical problems can arise. For example, heatstroke can affect all major organs that can cause kidney, heart, and neurological problems; and blood clots. The best way to minimize complications and improve your pet’s chances of recovery is to have your veterinarian see them as soon as there are concerns about overheating. “

Prevent heat exhaustion in dogs

To protect your dog in hot and humid weather, Boeving suggests keeping these tips in mind.

  • Plan for walks and playtime early in the morning or late at night when it is a little cooler, or limit activities indoors. When your dog goes outside, don’t let him be outside for too long and watch for symptoms of overheating.

  • Consider your dog’s breed and health. Brachycephalic dog breeds (flat face) like pugs and bulldogs and older, overweight or non-heat-acclimatized dogs are at greater risk of heat exhaustion. The same goes for hairless dogs and dogs that have a long, thick coat or a short, thin coat.

  • Outside, take breaks in the shade. Encourage your dog to drink water as panting increases dehydration. To make this more manageable on the go, pack a collapsible water bowl that folds into your pocket or clips onto your backpack.

  • On hot days, swap rides for splashing water in a pet pool or let your dog run through the water sprinkler. Or better yet, find something fun inside to do together for exercise.

  • Don’t leave your dog in a car on a hot day. According to The Humane Society of the United States, it only takes 10 minutes – on an 85 degree day – for the temperature in a car to reach 102 degrees. And it is with the windows slightly open.

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