By Karen A. Soukiasian
Understanding how your dog cools himself may help you understand how deadly it is to leave your dog in your vehicle or outside when it is too hot.
Leaving the windows of your vehicle down is not much help. Leaving your dog inside, at home, is the wisest decision.
· Your dog’s normal body temperature is approximately 101F (38C)
· Moderate heatstroke begins at 104F (40C).
· Severe to grave at 107F (42C)
A dog’s body was not designed to sweat. The only sweat glands they have are on their nose and the pads of their feet. They cool down and regulate their body temperature by air circulating through their fur and by panting.
Amazingly, a dog’s coat acts as insulation from heat and cold. When your dog pants, by inhaling cooler air, and expelling hot air, their body tries to normalize their temperature, in an attempt to prevent heatstroke. By inhaling the hot air in a vehicle, your dog will only over heat and suffer heatstroke faster.
Extra caution should be taken with short-muzzled breeds, when the weather is hot. For example: Boxers, Shih Tzus, all the Bullie Dogs and Pugs to name a few, are particularly prone to heatstroke.
In addition, attention should be given to dogs with short, stumpy legs such as Dachshunds, Corgis and Basset Hounds and Toy breeds that are close to the pavement.
Do not wait! If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, err on the side of caution!
For Mild to Moderate Heatstroke -up to 104F (40C):
Carefully move your dog to a cool place. If possible, get them inside with air conditioning or place them in front of a fan. If you cannot move your dog inside, get to shady spot such as under a tree. Fan them with whatever is available to cool him.
If possible, use cool, wet cloths, bags of frozen vegetables, and/or even packets of frozen meat to cool his body. If rubbing alcohol is available, soak the cloth with alcohol. Place the cloths, ice packs, bags of vegetables or meat, in the armpits and/or groin area to cool off his whole body. Cooling your dog’s head and neck will also help lower his temperature.
If you have access to a hose, try gently spraying him. If there is access to a bathtub, fill it with cool water and place your dog into the tub.
Keep track of your dog’s temperature. If you do not have a thermometer, you can gently place your index finger or wrist, on the insides of his armpits or groin, to see if his temperature is lowering. If you have access to a thermometer (rectal), take your dog’s temperature every few minutes until he begins to cool down.
If your dog is conscious, wet a towel or cloth, slowly squeeze drops of water into his mouth. Offer your dog ice chips. A severely over-heated dog may not want water. If your dog shows no interest in drinking, slip ice chips into their mouth or see if they will lick an ice cube.
For Severe Heatstroke – 107+F (42C)
Immediately seek veterinary assistance if your dog’s temperature is at or above 107F (42C). Your dog is in grave danger! Place him as close to the air conditioner vents in your vehicle as possible.
Place cold wet cloths, cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol, ice packs, bags of frozen vegetables and or even packages of frozen meat, under his armpits and groin area. Cooling your dog’s head and neck will also help lower his temperature.
If possible, slip ice chips or gently squeeze drops of water from a cloth, into your dog’s mouth.
Should your dog stop breathing, pull over to the side of the road and administer artificial respiration and CPR immediately.
Be aware, even if your dog regains consciousness and survives this ordeal, severe and permanent damage may have already been done to his internal organs and brain.
Bottom Line: Leave your dog in the comfort of his or her home, when the weather is hot. Let them sulk all they want…at least you will know they are safe.
NOTE: When temperatures are in the 90F (32C) range, outside dogs should be allowed into the house. Always make sure your dog has access to water. A little bit of Gatorade or Powerade in their water will help keep them hydrated and their electrolytes in balance. Freeze some, and add it to their water to cool it down. It is especially prudent, to have more than one water bowl filled with clean, fresh, water available at all times when the weather is hot!
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