Dogs don’t sweat the way people do in order to cool the body down during extreme temperatures. They cool off by panting; the air cools the mucous membranes and blood vessels in their mouth and tongue. Extreme cases of heat stroke lead to the disruption of the dog’s internal cooling mechanism, and they quickly go into cardiovascular shock, which is life-threatening.
Cars are the worst culprit. Even windows left open do not always provide the air flow needed, and the hothouse effect is very rapid! If you absolutely must leave your dog in the car, park only in the shade with windows open (so that they cannot jump out), and NEVER for more than 7 - 10 minutes. They must have access to cool, clean water at all times and be able to avoid direct heat by providing shade if outdoors, or a fan if left in an apartment during the hottest part of the day.
Puppies and older dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke. If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, this is an emergency situation and should be treated by your veterinarian immediately.
Some of the signs to watch for include:
1) unusual sluggishness or unresponsiveness
2) pale or dark red gums, sometimes with a dry feel
3) erratic breathing
NEVER ICE YOUR PET. THIS WILL CAUSE THE BLOOD VESSELS IN THE BODY TO CONSTRICT TOO FAST AND AFFECT BLOOD FLOW IN THE BODY
Immediate correction of hyperthermia:
Monitor your pets temperature with a rectal thermometer. The normal temperature for a dog is around 38.5°C or 101°F. Dogs suffering from heat stroke often present with body temperatures around 105ºF.
Spray with water or immerse in water before transporting to veterinary facility.
Stop cooling procedures when temperature reaches 103°F, to avoid hypothermia.
Give artificial respiration support if required.
Don't let a fear of heat stroke stop you from enjoying the great outdoors with your pet, but please be aware of the danger. A little caution goes a long way, even just providing access to water and shade at all times will prevent your pet from developing this condition.
This article was donated by the Columbia Animal Hospital. For further information visit http://www.petshealth.com
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