Dogs and heat stroke

Dogs on lilo in the poolDespite the frequent return of wet weather we’ve had this spring and summer, when the sun does make a reappearance we tend to end up with the opposite extreme and a heatwave. Don’t you just love the British weather?! :-)

Us humans always welcome the sun, but it’s easy to forget that our more hairy doggy companions can find the heat difficult to deal with. Every year there are reports of dogs dying as a result of heat stroke so it’s really important to take precautions and know how to deal with your dog if he becomes overheated.

Typically 90% of all cases of heat stroke in dogs occur as a result of being left in cars. Please, please, please don’t leave your dog in the car during the summer months!

But if you do have to stop by the shops – even for a few minutes – make sure you leave the windows open. Most dog owners will be aware of this, but did you realise that heat stroke can also occur while your dog is in the garden or during a walk?

Make sure your garden offers plenty of shade and that your dog has ready access to clean, fresh water – keep topping up the bowl throughout the day. And for those of you who have very active pets, avoid walks during the middle of the day and don’t expect to go so far on very hot days.

How to recognise and treat for heat stroke

The most common symptoms are:

  • Muscle twitching
  • Blank staring eyes
  • Loss of control of tongue
  • Heavy panting and rapid breathing
  • Dry mouth and nose
  • Salivation

If your dog presents any of these symptoms immediate action is required.

Left untreated the situation will escalate rapidly – seizures, collapse, coma and then death; there is no nice way of putting it.

So, know how to treat your dog if you suspect heat stroke:

  • Cool your dog. If he’s in a car, open all the windows. At home, turn on the aircon, get a fan or something that will help create a cooling breeze.
  • Cover your dog with cold, wet towels.
  • Pour COOL water over him but DON’T immerse your dog in very cold water – this can lead to shock.
  • Try to encourage your dog to drink small amounts of water.
  • Get your dog to the vet for professional treatment as quickly as possible.

And if you’ve got to the end of this article, you are hopefully more aware of the risks of heat stroke and will have a good summer with your pooch – and without any scary incidents. :-)

About Anne

Hi my name is Anne Morrison and I'm a professional dog and cat groomer based near Aldershot in Hampshire.
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