What Is Heat Stroke And How Do You Avoid It?

SitStay Blog: What Is Heat Stroke And How Do You Avoid It?

Heat stroke is the severe and often deadly consequence of a dog's body overheating. Once the heat dispersion methods of your canine cannot offset the rise in body temperature, seizures and even death can ensue. The best way to avoid the dangers of heat stroke for your dog is to educate yourself on the warning signs and dangerous situations.

The most common way for a dog to suffer heat stroke is from an owner who left him or her in a vehicle. It is very easy to forget that even on a warm day, the temperatures inside a car are far higher due to the sun and the lack of proper ventilation. Many dogs perish every year by owners who unwittingly run into a store for a few items leaving their beloved pet in the car. Even with the windows cracked for air, heat stroke can occur in mere minutes.

Excessive exercising is another reason heat stroke frequently occurs. Unlike humans, canines cannot sweat over their entire body. Their heat dispersion methods are minimal sweating through their footpads and panting. So while on a summer's day jog you may be doing just fine, your dog could be suffering from heat stroke. You need to be vigilant in watching for the common signs of heat stroke which include:

  • Bright red tongue and gums
  • Excessive panting and salivating
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tremoring or seizures
  • Breathing distress

In the event of heat stroke, immediate action must be taken to save your dog's life. Spraying or soaking your pet's body in cool, never ice cold, water is the best way to lower body temperature. Immediately provide cool water for your dog to drink without restriction. Lift and move your dog to a cool environment if possible, and supply fans or wrap cool water soaked towels around your dog. Do not attempt to forcefully walk, or run them home. Once the symptoms have ceased, visit a veterinarian to ensure no lasting damage has occurred.

Protecting your dog from heat stroke is easy if you follow these three simple steps. Never leave your dog inside a vehicle unattended. Avoid exercise during the hottest parts of the day, and keep an eye on the humidity levels as they can contribute to the heat index. Always supply a cool, shady area and unlimited water to dogs left outside. Beyond these steps, it is up to you to spot the signs of heat stroke, so constantly monitor for the warning signs.


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