Now that the weather is finally warming up for Summer, we need to be careful that our furry friends don’t over-exert themselves in the heat.
Dehydration and unexpected warm weather can spell disaster for your companions; it’s not uncommon for pets to visit us with heatstroke. Heatstroke is very common in dogs, particularly in the brachycephalic (‘squashed face’) breeds as they have more difficulty in oxygenating themselves properly when they exercise, however, all dogs are at risk.
Unlike humans, dogs do not sweat from their skin and instead rely on panting to reduce their body temperature. On hot days, if panting is not enough to maintain a normal temperature, dogs can quickly overheat and be at risk of developing Heatstroke. If left untreated it can rapidly lead to organ failure and death, so prevention and recognition of it are crucial.
Simple tips to help prevent the risk of heatstroke:
- Exercise your dog early in the morning and late in the evening, when it is cooler.
- On particularly warm days, limit the amount of exercise your pet receives. Remember that they love to play, and they love to please you! So, a dog will easily over-exert themselves to the point of exhaustion playing fetch in hot weather without even realising it.
- Avoid any dog jackets or coats in hot weather.
- Never leave your dog in a parked car or restrained in a place without shade and ventilation.
- Take water with you on walks and give dogs small, frequent drinks.
- Take your dog swimming or spray them with water when out on walks.
- Avoid long car trips and ensure there is good air conditioning or good ventilation in the car.
Signs to watch out for:
- Heavy panting
- Faster panting
- Reluctance to exercise
- Staggering or collapse
- Drooling a lot more than normal
- Drinking a lot more than normal
- A confused or dazed face, or glassy eyes.
- Seizures or unconsciousness
If you are concerned that your pet may be suffering from heatstroke, immediately stop any exercise and move your pet to a shady place and contact your vet as soon as you notice the symptoms.
Offer small sips of water and wet your dog with water to cool it down (do not use icy or very cold water as it causes constriction of vessels in the skin which actually retains more heat.).