As spring turns to summer and the temperature climbs in Matthews, so does your dog’s risk of heat stroke. Unlike humans, dogs can only sweat through their paws. Beyond that, panting is their only way to reduce their body temperature, and considering they’re almost always donning a fur coat, heat stroke is a very real possibility in hot weather.
Dog Breeds More Susceptible to Heat Stroke in Matthews, NC
With lots of clean water and a properly shaded spots, most dogs are just fine outside in temperatures below 90˚F. However, as dogs come in all shapes, sizes and fur densities, there’s no guarantee that your pup won’t overheat.
Breeds with Short Snouts
Dog breeds with shorter snouts, like Pugs and Bulldogs, have less ability to cool themselves through panting.
Breeds that Originate from Cold Climates
Dog breeds that originate from colder climates, like Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds and Siberian Huskies, have a more difficult time acclimating to extreme heat.
Dogs with Underlying Health Problems
Dogs that have underlying health conditions are at much greater risk for heat stroke.
Breeds with Very Thick Fur
There are also many breeds, like German Shepherds, Chows and Pomeranians, that have a double or under coat, which is basically like wearing two fur coats!
Common Signs of Dog Heat Stroke in Matthews, NC
Some common signs of heat stroke in dogs to look out for include, but aren’t limited to:
Increased, vigorous panting that only stops when he swallows. This may be accompanied by quiet or louder whining or whimpering. Your dog is trying to lower his body heat by panting, but it isn’t the most effective measure when the weather is extremely hot.
Dizziness or Unsteadiness
Another common sign of dog heat stroke is when your dog is acting dizzy or unsteady when on her feet. You may notice her stumbling or having trouble standing up straight. This is a sure sign of dehydration.
Dehydration can be detected by feeling your dog’s nose. If his nose is dry, his eyes are sunken in, or if he appears tired, he may be dehydrated.
Disorientation or Confusion
An overheated brain doesn’t function properly. If your dog looks like she isn’t sure where she is, acts unusually aggressive or barks at nothing, she may be suffering from heat stroke.
A healthy, hydrated dog’s gums should be pink. If your pup has heat stroke, his gums may turn dark red, gray, blue or even purple from the excessive heat and panting.
Tacky, Dry Mucus Membranes
This is found on the inner mouth and gums. Simply raise your dog’s lips and gently touch his inner lips and gums just above the teeth. In a healthy dog, these should be at least somewhat moist and if they aren’t, there’s a chance he’s overheating.
Reluctance to Drink
It seems strange that a dog who is hot may avoid drinking water. Part of this is due to the disorientation, but overheating can also cause a dog to feel sick to her stomach which makes her less likely to want to add anything to it. This symptom furthers the process of dehydration and heat stroke.
If your dog is acting lethargic, collapsing, or isn’t able to stand then these are dangerous signs of heat stroke. A dog that cannot stand is a dog in an extremely critical state. If your pup can’t manage to move a muscle, rush him to the closest veterinarian or emergency clinic.
Loss of Consciousness
When in the deeper stages of heat stroke, your dog’s body may begin to shut down, leading to unconsciousness.
The lack of hydration causes your dog’s saliva to thicken, and it may appear stringy.
Increased Body Temperature
A healthy dog’s body temperature should be between 101˚F and 102.5˚F. If your dog’s temperature is over 104˚F, she needs immediate help from a veterinarian in Matthews, NC. Damage to your dog’s organs and cellular system become irreversible at a temperature over 106˚F.
What Should You Do if You Think Your Dog May Have Heat Stroke in Matthews, NC?
Here are some things you should do if it seems your dog has heat stroke:
Bring Your Dog Inside and Offer Some Water
The first step is obvious – get your dog inside and out of the heat right away. Offer him some cool water, but don’t force him to drink. Try to keep him from drinking too much, as he may vomit and only further dehydrate himself.
Check Your Dog’s Temperature
Take your dog’s temperature and repeat every five minutes. If his temperature drops too rapidly, he may be overcooling, which can also be dangerous. If your dog’s temperature is initially under 104˚F, you do not need to continue checking.
Try to Lower Your Dog’s Body Temperature
Lower your dog’s body temperature using cool – but not cold – water. Dip a washcloth or rag in the water and gently rub him down, focusing on the feet and armpits. You may also place wet rags on those spots but be sure to change them often as they dry.
Do not fully cover your dog in wet towels, as it may end up trapping the heat.
Make Sure to Avoid Cooling too Quickly
Avoid cooling him too rapidly, as this overcooling causes blood vessels to constrict and can actually prevent the core of his body from cooling and raise his inner temperature. Overcooling can also cause hypothermia.
Take Your Dog to the Vet
Even after recovering, you should take your pet to the vet in Matthews, as internal damage may have been done. Your veterinarian will likely want to run tests to ensure he is healthy.
How to Help Prevent Your Dog from Getting Heat Stroke in Matthews, NC
If your dog absolutely must be outside, try to keep her time out there limited to the cooler times of the day, and avoid times between 11AM and 3PM. Walks should be given in the morning or evening to prevent her burning her precious paws on the hot pavement.
See a Veterinarian if Your Dog is Suffering from Heat Stroke in Matthews, NC
Not all signs of heat stroke are obvious, which is why it’s important to limit your dog’s outside time during the hotter times of the day and never, ever leave them in the car. Even on cooler, cloudy days, the inside of a vehicle can get very hot very quickly and put your dog at risk. Use common sense when it comes to being outside on hot days with your dog. If you’re hot, she likely is as well.
Your dog’s wellbeing is one of the most important things to our team at Caring Hearts Animal Hospital, which is why we’re here to help keep your pet as healthy as possible so they can live a long and happy life with you. If you think your dog may be suffering from heat stroke, contact us today and we’ll work with you on determining the next best steps for your pet so they can get the care they need as soon as possible.