Heat: A danger to your pet
- Dr. Prateek M Pradhan
Heat stroke is one of the most worrying topics for the dog in summer. It is a serious form of heat injury and is a medical emergency.
What is heat stroke?
Dogs eliminate excess body heat by panting, and to a limited extent, by sweating through a foot pad. If the environment is too hot, these processes are ineffective and the animal becomes overheated. The body temperature rises rapidly and causes heat stroke. If the temperature of the dog gets above 105 0F (40.5 0C) the dog is in danger. Death follows, or brain damage can occur, if the temperature is not reduced immediately.
Preventing heat stroke
- Always provide good ventilation and access to shade.
- Make available clean and cool drinking water 24 hours a day.
- Never leave the dog in the car on a hot day, even if you park in the shade, and leave a window open.
- In cold weather, never leave your dog in a car in direct sunlight, or with the heater switched on.
Signs of heat stroke
- high rise in temperature (striking feature)
- fainting (coma)
- disorientation, collapse, pale gums
- rapid shallow breathing
- vomit and diarrhea
- rapid heart beat
- frothing from mouth
- If the dog is unconscious, make sure no water enters the nose or mouth.
- Do not put a dog’s head under water.
- In severe cases, the brain can swell. Treat for shock if necessary and get immediate veterinary attention.
Breeds prone to heat stroke
Some breeds are less efficient at ridding their excess body heat. These include flat-nosed breeds such as pug and boxer, elderly dogs, and overweight dogs.
Treating heat stroke
- Remove the dog from hot environment as quickly as possible. Take the dog into a cool, well ventilated room. Lay the dog on a cool surface and fan air over its body, while wetting the skin with water from a sponge or garden hose. Let the dog drink cool water with an added pinch of salt.
- Apply ice pack to its armpits, groin, neck, and back.
- Take special care to cool the head. Place a bag of frozen peas wrapped in cloth on the head to help reduce heat around the brain. Clear the mouth of saliva and sponge the face with cool water.
- Immerse the dog in the pool if you are outdoors. If indoors, put the dog in a sink or bathtub. Run the shower over the dog, or cover it with a wet towel, and pour on more water to keep the towel cold.