Can It Get Any Hotter? Keep Your Pet Cool This Summer!
Jessie, the cool dog…literally! It’s hot outside: Here in the Midwest, August can be a scorching month. Those dried up expressions like “It’s so hot out, you could fry an egg on the sidewalk” abound. While your dog may enjoy his daily walk, you might want to think twice before exposing him to the extreme temperatures. Unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat through their skin. They release sweat through their noses and through the pads of their feet. They also pant heavily to release heat. If a dog is unable to release excessive heat, his body temperature will rise, and once it reaches 106 degrees, damage to internal organs can become irreversible. That’s why it is so important to recognize the signs of a possible heat stroke in your pet:
- Vigorous panting
- Dark, red gums
- Tacky or dry mucus membranes, especially in the gums of the mouth
- Lying down and an unwillingness to get up
- Loss of consciousness or collapsing
- Thick saliva
- Disorientation or dizziness
- Increased rectal temperature…if it goes over 104, you must take action. If it goes over 106, this is a dire emergency.
If you notice any of these signs, immediately take action to help your dog. Get him out of the heat and away from the sun. Place cool, wet rags or washcloths on his body, specifically around the head and the foot pads. However, do not use ice or extremely cold water, which can case the blood vessels to constrict and not allow the body’s core to cool down properly. When your dog’s temperature reaches 103 degrees, stop the cooling measures. Offer him some cool water to drink, but never force it down his throat. Call your vet immediately to determine what course of action is needed next. Your dog might seem better, but you cannot tell if any internal damage has been sustained.
To avoid heat stroke, please do not leave your dog in a hot car, even if the windows are open. When the temperature outside is hot, the inside of your car is much hotter – like an oven! Save the vigorous exercise for a cooler day. If you do go outside, head for the shade and any cooler area. Be sure your dog has access to fresh water all the time.
And, if you are fortunate enough to have a servant-cat around like I do (Calls out to Bo: “Hey! Get back here and keep fanning me! I’m working here and getting quite warm!”), then just have him fan you all day and continue to bring you cool drinks. (Shouts back at Bo: “Hey! Where’s that little umbrella that should be in my drink?”) Cats….geez! The only way he will ever be a “cool cat” is if I lock him in the freezer! (Don’t worry! That is just an evil thought…not something I would actually do!)
(Thanks to About.com and its dog and puppy health section for its great reference material on this topic!)