Summer is a fun season not only for us, but for our beloved canines. Our dogs enjoy being able to spend hours outdoors in the sun, basking in the warm grass and watching small animals that emerge during the warm months of the year. But, with the rise in temperatures comes a need to be extra conscious of our dog’s wellbeing, since too much heat exposure can lead to fatigue and dehydration, or worse, heat stroke.
Heat stroke is extremely dangerous for dogs, which is why we need to talk about the signs that your dog is experiencing heat stroke, what you can do about it, and more importantly, how to prevent it from happening in the first place.
What is Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke is a term for hyperthermia, or excessive heat within the body. Heat stroke generally occurs when the body achieves a temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, while achieving 103 degrees is dangerous and means that a dog needs to be removed from heat immediately. Organ failure can begin to take place around 107 degrees, which is why you don’t want to waste any time. Once heat stroke takes place, the body can begin shutting down its processes and eventually leading to death.
Heat stroke can occur if a dog is left outdoors but is actually most common when a dog is left inside a car with the windows up and the air conditioning off. Leaving a dog in an unventilated car for even a handful of minutes on a hot day can be deadly, which is why you should never, under any circumstances, allow that to happen even if for a couple of minutes. Many dogs die each year due to these conditions, so it’s not something to be taken lightly.
A dog may also be more likely to end up with heat stroke if they’re outside on pavement as opposed to grass. Because pavement absorbs heat, it speeds up the process of warming up your dog’s body to a potentially dangerous temperature.
What are Signs of Heat Stroke?
While hopefully, your dog will never get heat stroke, it’s important to go over the warning signs that can mean that medical intervention is required. Signs of heat stroke include:
- Rapid breathing
- Dry, sticky or abnormally colored gums
If you notice any of these symptoms, please take them seriously. The only one that may not necessarily be a major cause for concern is lethargy, which can result from a dog feeling lazy on a hot day, which is common. But, if any of the other above symptoms occur, take them seriously and consider getting medical attention for your dog – and, if possible, taking their temperature while you wait for them to be treated.
Heat Stroke Quick Prevention Tips
Because heat stroke is so dangerous once it does set in, you want to focus on preventing it rather than treating it if it does occur.
Prevention Tip #1: Have Access to a Shady Spot Outdoors
Make sure there is a shady spot in your yard where your dog can go once they start getting too hot. Even on a very hot day, the shade can be much cooler than sunny spots on your lawn.
Prevention Tip #2: Keep a Cool Off Pool Nearby
A lot of pet owners invest in a cheap kiddie pool and fill it with cool water, so that the dog can go cool off as desired and needed while they spend time outdoors.
Prevention Tip #3: Don’t Leave Them Out for Too Long
Make a point not to let your dog spend hours outside if the weather is particularly hot. Always ensure that they’ve access to the inside on their own, or even force them to come indoors after a certain duration of time.
Prevention Tip #4: Give Them Plenty of Water
While even a dog who drinks a lot of water can suffer from heat stroke, hydration is critical. Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer regulate its own temperature, while dehydration is the loss of fluids, and so ultimately these are two different conditions. Still, dehydration is also extremely common on hot days, and if a dog is both dehydrated and suffering from heat stroke, they’re even more at risk of serious harm. Make sure your dog is able to access plenty of water when it’s hot.
Prevention Tip #5: Do Not Leave a Dog in a Car with the Windows Up
Again, we need to emphasize the importance of never leaving your dog in a car with the windows up on a hot day. Because this is so deadly, it’s an essential rule to follow.
Prevention Tip #6: Know the Forecast Ahead of Time
It’s helpful to check weather forecasts to know ahead of time when a day will be excessively hot, to plan your dog’s day around it. This is especially important if you’re taking your dog out for the day, such as going to the beach on a day during a heatwave, when your dog will not easily be able to go inside once the temperature becomes excessively high.
Prevention Tip #7: Do Not Let Your Dog Lie on Pavement
Discourage your dog from lying on pavement or rocks, both of which absorb and retain heat when exposed to the sun. This can make a huge difference in whether or not your dog contracts heat stroke.
Prevention Tip #8: Administering Them CBD Oil
Chill Paws CBD Oil for Dogs might help in an effort to relieve symptoms through the healing phase. Still, before even doing this, get your pet to the emergency room so they can get treated, usually with fluids and in severe instances, an IV drip. The side effects we touched upon earlier all have the potential to be helped with cannabidiol (CBD), given, of course, what the veterinarian recommends. If the veterinarian allows for CBD administration, this cannabinoid could potentially help them relax and get some much-need rest during the healing stage.
Treating Your Dog’s Heat Stroke: Now You Know What to Do!
Because heat stroke is so dangerous, you gotta do everything possible prevent it as we get into the summer season. If you suspect that your dog has heat stroke, it must be treated as an urgent medical emergency, and you should take them to an urgent care clinic immediately without wasting any time. While your canine is being transported, you can apply a cloth dipped in cold water to their body, aiming to replace the cloth as it heats up. Alternatively, you can pour cool water over their head and body. Make sure there’s a lot of airflow while they’re being transported, so that the heat can evaporate.