The following tips can help you recognize the causes and preventative measures of heat stroke in dogs.
Why do dogs feel temperature differently from humans?
Why do so many dogs develop heatstroke during the hot season?
Humans and dogs feel temperature differently. When you are closer to the ground, the higher the temperature is! Though placed in a similar setting, dogs generally feel 5 to 17℃ warmer than humans. On hot days, dogs might experience a temperature of 50℃! It is hard to imagine yourself going for walks in such high temperature, more so for your pet dog! If you walk your dog outside on hot days, take him to shady areas and provide water frequently!
Heat stroke can frequently occur in dogs while keeping dogs indoors.
You may think heat stroke only occur in dogs while walking them outdoors, but this is not necessarily the case. Data shows that heat strokes occur indoor more frequently than outdoors, accounting for 70 percent of all heat strokes cases in dogs! Remember to adjust temperatures using air-conditioners and provide access to fresh water at all times!
How do dogs maintain normal body temperature?
When you take your dog outside on hot days, he or she may breathe faster than normal with their tongue sticking out.
This action is referred to as Panting, a term to describe the way a dog takes quick, shallow breaths in order to cool his or her body. Panting will allow heat to cool down through the evaporation of saliva from the surface of the tongue. However, it should be noted that evaporation of saliva will cause the dog to get thirsty quickly. Water should be offered immediately for their bodies to prevent heat stroke.
Humans have sweat glands in their skin to cool themselves down. Unlike humans, dogs has limited sweat glands in their pads, which delay the process of cooling down even more.
Factors Contributing To Heat Stroke in Dogs
Moving on, let’s have a look at risk factors and environmental factors of heat stroke in dogs!
Dogs With Higher Risk Of Getting Heat Stroke
1. Short-headed (Brachycephalic) breeds
Brachycephalic breeds of dogs (those with short-noses e.g. Pekinese, Pugs, Bulldogs and Shih Tzus) are prone to heat stroke. Many of these breeds have respiratory problems due to their small nasal passages. It is more difficult for them to circulate sufficient air for cooling. These breeds may need to take more effort to cool themselves. If brachycephalic breeds have respiratory abnormalities, they would have a harder time to dispel their body heat. This condition can cause brachycephalic syndrome, with syndromes such as a tracheal collapse, an elongated soft plate, and stenotic nares.
2. Overweight (Obesity)
Heat stroke can also develop in dogs that have put on too much weight.Obesity put extra strain on their heart and respiratory functions, and extra layers of fat will trap more heat!
In addition, dogs cannot sweat to dissipate heat. The weight gain of your dog comes with a raft of accompanying health problems, just as it does in people. It is important to keep your dog in good shape and start exercising! Here’s a list of workouts for dogs to keep them moving!
3. Previous history of heart / lung disease
If dogs suffer from heart, respiratory or dehydration related diseases which require higher breathing rate, you need to take special care that these dogs don’t develop heat stroke! Some examples of such diseases in dogs include mitral regurgitation (MR), dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), heart worm, pneumonia and bronchitis. Dehydration in dogs may indicate a serious underlying problem such as diuretic-related side effects, kidney disorders, and diabetes.
4. Hyper, overly-excited dogs or Dogs that dislike water
Of course, dogs love to play! If they get too obsessed with playing, they may sometimes forget to drink water. This is dangerous and highly recommended to provide a lot of water during playtime! If he dislike water, give him or her small amounts of water frequently. A little water is better than none!
5. Short legged dogs
Short legged dogs such as Dachshunds may walk on the ground at a temperature about 60℃ without putting on their shoes on hot days. Furthermore, they are more exposed to radiant heat coming from the sunshine-heated ground. Walk them on shaded area and keep their bodies cool as much as possible!
Puppies, elderly dogs or heavy coated breeds such as Siberian Huskies have an increased risk of developing heat stroke! Do not forget to keep an eye on them!
Environmental Factors That Contribute To Heat Stroke In Dogs
1. Sudden change from cool to hot
The sudden change in temperature from cool to hot can have a serious effect on dogs.
2. Hot, humid environment
Don’t leave your dog alone indoors on hot days. The medical cost of treating heat stroke in dogs is more expensive than the electricity cost of running air conditioners. Heat stroke can be life-threatening, so ensure your dog stays safe!
3. Walking dogs during the heat of the day
Avoid taking your dog out during the hottest times of day. It is highly recommended to walk your dog in the morning or a cool evening to enjoy the breeze.
During beach outings, it should be noted that sand can become very hot during the summer months! Avoid walking your dog on sand, and hold him or her in your arms. Time for some cosy moment!
4. Inside a car
Avoid leaving your dog inside a parked car as is very dangerous. Even if you plan to be gone for awhile, the temperature inside of a car can reach oven-like temperatures in just minutes! As a closed car can store heat easily, it is a no-no to keep your dog or child in the car. Furthermore, dogs may get nervous and overexcited, and are more likely to suffer a heat stroke.
Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs
Heat stroke in humans starts with leg cramp and dizziness. Symptoms of moderate heat stroke include fatigue, headache, vomiting, and diarrhoea. As symptoms become severe, this can lead to clouding of consciousness, seizures, or death.
The first signs of heat stroke in dogs are rapid breathing, excessive drooling, lightheadedness, and staggering. Other signs that may be seen are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. These symptoms may progress to seizures, collapse, or death. A body temperature of 40 to 43℃ is deadly.
Prevention and First Aid Of Heat Stroke In Dogs
Dogs cannot thermoregulate as well as humans and the risk of heat stroke is much greater for dogs. You need to keep your dog safe in the hot season.
How To Prevent Heat Stroke
1. Don’t leave your dog alone on hot days.
2. Pay attention to detail tips below if you leave your dog alone inside rooms.
Keep room temperatures from increasing (e.g. frequent air-ventilation and air-conditioners)
Make sure that there is sufficient water (Use several bowls in different places or attached bowls)
Keep sleeping area cool(Close the curtains, move his or her crate into a cool, shaded and well-ventilated area, and use cooling mats)
3. Never leave your dog unattended in a parked car and make sure you have adequate air flow through the car while driving.
4. Pay attention to detail tips below if you take your dog out.
As a dog carrier can store heat easily, monitor your dog condition frequently when you use it.
Provide fresh water at all times.
Avoid direct sunlight.
5. Limit outdoor activity to the early morning and late evening.
Avoid walking your dog under the blazing sun and take him or her on shaded side. Allow your dog to drink water freely.
First Aid of heat stroke in dogs
1. In case of conscious dogs
Spray your dog with cool water until temperature reaches 39℃. Don’t use ice-cold water, as it may worsen things.
2. In case of unconscious dogs
Take your dog to your vet or an emergency clinic as quickly as possible.
Carry your dog with his or her tongue sticking out, in order to prevent the blocking of the respiratory tract, if you can. Place cool, wet towels, instead of refrigerants, over the back of the neck, in the armpits and in the groin region.
Call the clinic immediately, it will increase the chance of surviving.
As the hot season approaches, it is essential to take preventative measures against heat stroke in dogs. As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”. It is important to have adequate knowledge on heat stroke, as it is one of the biggest cause of death in dogs. No matter how fit your dogs are, it is still important to take good care and monitor your dog daily.
Though the hot temperature may be intolerable, it is definitely a good time to engage in awesome summer activities with your dogs! We hope you learnt a thing or two about heat stroke from this article. Have fun this Summer!