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Emergency - Your Dog Is Overheated!

Jun 23, 2008
Summertime is a great time to be doing things outdoors with your pet. But it is vitally important to keep you pet's health in mind when enjoying or traveling in the summer. Since dogs and cats don't sweat, they can't cool themselves as efficiently as humans. Therefore, temperatures and activities that don't bother healthy humans can lead to spiraling temperatures in your pet that can result in heat exhaustion, followed by heatstroke, and ultimately, death.

The first signs of heat exhaustion are difficulty breathing or heavy panting followed by huffing and puffing or gasping for air. Your dog may begin to walk in strange patterns which may be the result of dizziness. At 105 degrees, heatstroke will set in. At this point, the canine may collapse and be unable to get up and may even appear unconscious. Disorientation will set in, the gums will turn to a muddy pink and the ears will appear flushed. At 108 to 110 degrees, the internal organs become affected and cell damage will begin to occur.

The conscientious pet owner needs to be watching their dog constantly when there is the slightest chance of heat injury. Signs of heat prostration are many and varied, and not all may occur simultaneously. Initial signs include rapid breathing or panting, rapid heart and pulse rates, weak pulse, pale or red gums, dry gums, excess salivation, decreased alertness, coma, seizures, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding. Heatstroke can lead to organ damage of the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys.

Therefore it is essential to take action quickly to reduce your dog's temperature, because death can result in as little as 20 minutes.

1. First, move your pet to a cooler environment, if possible.

2. Cool your dog with cool, but not cold water. If you dog has thick fur, continue to apply cool water so that water trapped close to the skin is not warmed by the dog's body.

3. If possible, use fans to blow on the dog.

4. Place ice packs in the groin area, armpits and neck.

5. Get your dog to a veterinarian immediately.

6. Give sips of cool water if the dog will take it.

Fortunately, preventing heatstroke in dogs is easy. Most heat-related injuries to dogs occur when they are locked in cars. Even on days that may not seem hot to us, temperatures in cars can soar. Cracking the windows does not help. So, DO NOT lock your dog in your car - ever. Here are some other ideas.

1. Do not ever lock your dog in your car. If you have to run errands, leave the dog at home. It bears repeating.

2. If your dog is an outdoor dog, make sure there is shade available all day and that there is plenty of cool water.

3. Dogs should be properly groomed so that their hair doesn't get too long. Dogs with long hair are more susceptible to heat stroke and other hot weather problems.

4. Exercise your dog less vigorously, preferably in the early morning.

5. Hot pavement is painful to human feet and dog paws alike, and can result in painful injuries to your dog. Avoid letting your dog walk on hot asphalt, sidewalks, and hot truck beds.

6. Be particularly careful with older dogs, dogs with short noses, such as pugs and bulldogs, overweight animals, and dogs with heavy fur.

7. If you're out with your dog in warm weather, carry cool water for both of you and offer it about every 20 minutes. Rest in the shade often.

8. If you clip your dog's fur short in the summertime, avoid situations that could cause sunburn. Dogs are particularly susceptible to sunburn of the skin, ears, and nose.

And if heat wasn't enough, here are some other summertime hazards to avoid.

Read labels on insecticides and other garden products to ascertain their effect on pets. Dogs and cats may become ill from first walking on the treated area then licking their paws.

Many garden and houseplants may cause irritation, illness or death if ingested by pets. Some of the more toxic include tulip, daffodil, and iris bulbs, azaleas, amaryllis, dieffenbachia and philodendron. Train your pets so that houseplants and specific areas of the garden are off limits.

Many dog owners - and some cat owners - like to give their pets short haircuts during the hot months. This doesn't necessarily ensure a cooler body temperature and could cause your pet to become sunburned. Keeping your dog and cat well groomed is important, but a very short clip isn't a good idea.

Regular grooming is important in helping to control tick infestations. If dogs or cats have been in fields or wooded areas, check ears, bellies, armpits and base of the tail carefully.

Dogs are susceptible to snake bites mostly from May to September. Identify the snake if possible. Restrict movement of the pet. Loosely immobilize the limb in a functional position if bitten on an extremity. DO NOT incise the bite wound to remove the venom and DO NOT apply a tourniquet without veterinary assistance. DO NOT apply ice to the area. Seek veterinary attention.

Summer is a great time to be outdoors with your pet. These simple, common sense ideas will help ensure you and your dog have a great summer.
About the Author
Janet Winter has a deep love for animals and enjoys writing informative articles about caring for your dog's comfort, safety and fun. You can learn how to provide a loving, pampered life for your dog by visiting APamperedDog.com. She is a web designer, travel agent and writer on many topics including pampered dogs, wild birds and babies.
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