Even though summertime involves getting outside more and enjoying the weather, there are serious things to consider if and when you take your dog outdoors. The high temperatures, especially here in Central Florida, can be dangerous and sometimes deadly, and heat stroke, unfortunately, is a common occurrence during the warm months. It is vital to take the proper precautions and abide by the warnings of high temperatures & heat index (which is typically 5 to 10 degrees higher than the actual temperature) for your health and the health of your dogs. Pet parents may think they are doing a good gesture by taking their dog for a stroll, playing in the yard or even visiting the dog park, but doing so at the wrong hours of the day can and may involve grim consequences.
What is Heat Stroke in Dogs?
Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and hyperthermia all occur when your dog gets too hot. Their body temperature will rise above a healthy condition, causing them to no longer be able to regulate their body heat. Mild heat exhaustion can be treated at home, but severe heat stroke could require immediate vet care. With heat stroke, your dog could lose consciousness, get a high fever, or even have organ failure. 103 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a high body temperature for a dog. If your dog has no previous illness symptoms, a temperature of 106 degrees likely means that they received too much heat exposure and should be cared for right away. Temperatures of 107 degrees or higher are critical. Your dog could be at risk of organ failure or death, so it’s important to seek help right away.
Dogs can’t regulate their body temperature as easily as humans can. They pant instead of sweat, which isn’t as effective. Additionally, other factors could make your dog even more prone to heat stroke. Overweight dogs, senior dogs, dogs with thick coats and dogs with flat faces are all more likely to experience heat stroke. However, ALL dogs are still at risk during hot summer days for overheating.
How to Detect Heat Stroke in Dogs?
If it’s hot outside, make sure you pay close attention to your dog’s behaviors. Your dog should be cooled down right away if they show signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Here are some common signs of heat stroke in dogs:
- Excessive panting
- Glossy Eyes
- Bright red tongue
- Red, gray, blue, or purple gums
- Rapid heart rate
- Excessive drooling
- Sticky saliva
If your dog displays one or more of these symptoms, bring them into the shade or air conditioning immediately. Placing a cool, damp towel on their head or stomach is a great way to help them cool off and also if available, hosing their entire body down with cool water. Then, get them to the ER Vet to check them out right away.
Breeds More Prone to Heat Stroke
All dogs can get heat stroke, but it’s much more common for these certain breeds:
- English Bulldog
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- French Bulldog
- Siberian Husky
- American Eskimo Dog
- Boston Terrier
- American Bulldog
- Shih Tzu
- Chow Chow
How to Prevent Heat Stroke
Limit Time Outdoors
Exercise of course is important for your dog, however, sometimes exercising outside during certain times of the day and year may not be so beneficial. If you want to enjoy outside time with you pooch, opt for the early mornings and early evenings. This time of the day may still be very warm, but the sun will not be beating down and there is an abundance of shade provided during these times. There is also the other option of entertaining your dog indoors as well. There are all kinds of dog games for indoor play to stimulate their minds and get a little bit of physical stimulation in their as well.
Dogs drink more water in the heat and will become dehydrated more quickly when they’re body temperatures rise. Making sure to have fresh water available for your dog when heading outdoors is must and keeping their water bowl full indoors is just as important, so they can stay hydrated even when they aren’t in the high temperatures.
Never Leave Your Dog Outside Unattended- This Goes for inside the car too
Any responsible dog parent knows the dangers of leaving your dog in a parked car or in your backyard unattended. Even if it’s only for a few minutes with the windows cracked, the car can heat up and turn into an oven! A parked car can reach 100 degrees after only 10 minutes, even if it’s only 70 degrees outside. Leaving your dog unattended in your backyard also poses a danger to them as well. It’s important to remember that dogs are more sensitive to heat than humans are and just because they are an animal, doesn’t mean they can withstand the heat. Over the years, dogs have been breed to live a domesticated lifestyle, indoors and in the cooler temperatures. Please do not forget they depend on us to take care of them and keep them healthy and happy!
Keep Your Home Cool
News flash, dogs can become overheated indoors as well. Leaving the air conditioning to a comfortable setting while you are away or present, is important in preventing heat stroke. This doesn’t mean you have to keep your house freezing or to the point where your energy bill is through the roof. But keeping your home to a temperature that will keep them cool, especially during the hottest parts of the day, is important. Some more tips to keep your home cool during the day are to close windows, turn on a fan, don’t leave any unnecessary lights on and do not run the dishwasher or clothes drying machine.
Treatments for Heat Stroke
It’s still possible for heat stroke to occur even if you work hard to prevent it. As soon as you notice the symptoms in your dog, you need to take care of them and rush them to the vet as soon as possible.
- Get your dog out of the heat as soon as they show signs of heat stroke
- Get them into an air-conditioned space-If you’re not near any shelter get them in the shade
- Put cool water on your dog to help them cool off but avoid using ice-cold water
- Put damp towels on their head and stomach first, then on their ears and paws to reduce their risk of fever
- Use a fan to dry off your dog once they start to cool down
- Make sure they have cool water accessible to them at all times (not ice cold-very important)
- Even if your dog seems to be feeling better you should still contact your vet
- If your dog becomes unconscious or if their heat stroke symptoms worsen, take them to the emergency Vet immediately
Why the ER Vet is Important
The sooner you contact your veterinarian, the safer your dog will be. Vets still need to check recovering dogs for related health concerns, such as dehydration, shock, and kidney failure. Even if your dog seems to be feeling okay or “back to normal”, underlying symptoms of heat stroke may be present. If your dog is still suffering from heat stroke, the Vet will continue to cool them down, using more cool water and even oxygen therapy in extreme cases.
After your Vet checks your dog’s health, they’ll be able to tell you what the next steps for their care are. Treatment for heat stroke-related problems could range in low to high pricing, that’s why it is crucial to have a Vet look at your dog before symptoms worsen.
About Walk’n Dogs – A Dog Care Company | College Park Orlando
Rachel has been working in the Pet Care Industry for the last few years and started her career in a local Canine Health & Fitness Center that also incorporated canine hydrotherapy, dog daycare & boarding. While working at Rocky’s Retreat, under the previous ownership of Sherri Cappabianca and Toby Gass, Rachel became certified in canine hydrotherapy and they taught her everything she knows about canine care, hydrotherapy, health and fitness.
Rachel is currently the owner/founder of Dip’n Dogs Canine Hydrotherapy and Walk’n Dogs – A Dog Walking Service in the Orlando, FL area. Dip’n Dogs provides water therapy for dogs with any orthopedic condition, degenerative disease, injury or obesity. Walk’n Dogs provides in-home visits for dog walking, pet sitting, pet taxi and pet errands. Each service is customized to fit each dog and their needs. Rachel caters to the Winter Park, Baldwin Park, Maitland, College Park, and Altamonte Springs, FL areas.
Rachel is also the owner and dog mom to her two beagles, Leo and Lola.