Heatstroke in dogs is serious and requires urgent medical attention!!
If we are left in a hot environment for too long, or over-exert ourselves in the heat, our body temperatures can go up. Now of course, I am not stupid enough to over-exert myself, but my little sister Sasha is (I swear she would chase that stupid tennis ball until she collapsed – luckily Mum is sensible enough to limit her exercise). A raised temperature is a real problem for us dogs; very quickly our cells can start to break down leading to organ failure and possibly death. Unfortunately, we can’t sweat like humans so we have to cool down by panting or sweating through our pads and noses but in high temperatures this becomes ineffective. Please make your humans aware of the signs of heatstroke; there are lots of things that you and they can do to help prevent it. Typical signs of heatstroke are:-
- Fast panting
- A bright red tongue
- Red or pale gums
- Thick, sticky saliva
- Depression / weakness or dizziness
- Vomiting – sometimes with blood
If you realise you have these symptoms please alert your human immediately and instruct them to wet you thoroughly with cool (not cold) water and increase air movement with a fan. Veterinary help should be sought as soon as possible even if you seem to be recovering. Your human should provide drinking water for you to drink on your own at all times (don’t let your human try to force you to drink). Your vet will be able to give fluids and oxygen and monitor you for shock/respiratory distress/organ failure/clotting problems. Severe heatstroke may cause organ damage for which your vet will provide treatment and ongoing care. If you have suffered from heatstroke before then your humans need to be aware that you have an increased risk of getting it again.
Make sure you do not let your human leave you in a car on a warm day; cars are like ovens and can cook us extremely quickly, even with the windows ajar. Also take my advice on a hot day and lie in the shade – all this running around like a loony is madness! Please insist on your human providing you with drinking water at all times and you could even drop some hints about getting your own private paddling pool or maybe they could treat you to a specialised cooling coat.
I beg you my little canine friends, if you feel so hot that you are panting fast, drooling, feel unwilling to move, feel sick and dizzy and have dark red gums PLEASE tell your human and try to get out of the heat! If you don’t, you could end up having convulsions, being in shock or worse still – dead! Please heed my advice!
If you have let things go too far and you have asked your human for help, please instruct them to move you into the shade before offering you a drink, then douse you with tepid water, put wet towels over you, using a fan to increase air movement and seek veterinary attention.
Take care out there, especially if you have a short nose as apparently you are more susceptible!
Woofs Lily – Barking Bugle Science Editor