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How To Treat Heatstroke In Dogs

Aug 17, 2007
Though it's easy for many people to make crass "hot dog" puns about the pets of others whenever dogs die in cars, making news headlines, most dog owners legitimately fear causing heatstroke in their companions. Heat stroke, a condition that is essentially when a dog (or most other mammals of that matter) is unable to purge unneeded heat from their bodies, raises the temperature of their delicate internal organs and causes massive damage to a dog's living tissue, which can kill even the healthiest dog.

As always, the figurative ounce of prevention is a lot easier to acquire than a cure for heatstroke. Anywhere a dog could become hot without a way to cool down can be a place that causes heatstroke, as can excessive exercise. Keeping your dog's temperature low is the best way to prevent heatstroke; allow for ventilation, leave a bowl of water, or create a shady place before leaving your dog in hot conditions.

Cars bear a special mention because cars allow a lot of to accumulate heat inside but only barely let any warmth out. On a hot day, a car can become a sweltering trap that can cause an agonizing death for any dog left inside too long. It's best to keep your dog out of a hot car as much as possible.

The signs of heatstroke are many, but varied and very easily discerned. Such signs include: increased panting or breathing (this sort of fast panting/breathing sounds more desperate than normal panting/breathing), heightened pulse rate, and bright red gums. Dogs also tend to look hot or as if they're wilting, just like humans do. If left untreated, heat stroke leads to shock or unconsciousness.

If your dog's condition becomes serious (or its body temperature is around 105 degrees Fahrenheit/40 degrees Celsius, if you have a thermometer on hand), then you have to hurry to keep your dog alive. The dog will need to be moved into a cool area with good ventilation, as well as being soaked in cold water or gently sprayed with cold water from a hose if a tub of ice water isn't immediately available. Be careful however, as once the dog's temperature drops back down to a healthy 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius), leaving the dog in cold water any longer (the cooling process is very fast) risks causing hypothermia, so keep a close eye on your pet as he cools down after heat stroke.

Be especially protective of older and younger dogs, both of which suffer heatstroke more easily. Once your pet has stabilized and the situation seems to be over, you should still bring your dog to the veterinarian. Heatstroke has hidden effects, such as dehydration and brain damage, that may only show after the immediate danger of death is over. All in all, heat stroke is easy to prevent. With the proper precautions, there is no reason why your pet should die. All it takes is a little time and very little effort to ensure your dog's health.
About the Author
Jeff Clare runs Dog Training News where you can read many more articles on training your dog . For more general advice on dog first aid go to Dogs And Dog News.
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