Summer in the City: Protect Your Dogs From Heat Stroke

by June 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm 1,491 7 Comments

Borderstan, Dogs, Heat

High summer temperatures can be fatal for dogs. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Tori Tyree.

 This column originally ran May 26, 2011.

It’s almost summertime in D.C. It’s time for barbeques, trips to the beach, and street festivals and many people love to bring their dogs along on their adventures. But, please be aware that there could be some serious summertime dangers for your dog if you aren’t careful!

My biggest pet peeve is seeing dogs out during the hottest part of the day, walking around on hot asphalt or sitting tied up to a café fence. Meanwhile, the owners are eating and drinking with their friends — and not paying attention to the fact that the dog is showing signs of distress.

And believe me, I’ve had a number of conversations with people that really just didn’t know how dangerous it is for a dog to be out in the sun all day — even with water bottles and shade provided!

If dogs cannot expel enough of this heat, their internal body temperature starts to rise. Once the temperature reaches 106 degrees, internal organs start to fail in what is usually an irreversible shutdown of the body.

Short nosed dogs such as Pugs and Bulldogs are the most susceptible to heat stroke since their noses are not long enough to actually cool the air they breathe in. If the temperature is 90 degrees or above, these breeds should be limited to five minutes outside.

Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

The following signs may indicate heat stroke in a dog:

  • vigorous panting
  • dark red gums
  • dry mucus membranes
  • thick saliva
  • laying down (or unwilling) to get up
  • dizziness
  • collapse
  • increased temperature (104 degrees requires action, 106 is a dire emergency)

Heat Stroke: What to Do

If you suspect Heat Stroke, here is what you need to do for your dog:

  • Move your dog out of the heat immediately.
  • Cool your dog by placing cool wet rags on her body, especially around the pads of feet and head.
  • Do not use ice or very cold water. This can actually cause the blood vessels to constrict and further raise the body temperature.
  • Stop cooling the body at 103 degrees. Over-cooling can cause another host of problems!
  • Offer cool water, but do not force your dog to drink.
  • Visit the vet right away. Even if you don’t see any problems, internal organs may be stressed and the animal needs to be checked out.

Luckily, there are a lot of daylight hours in the summer so you can enjoy time outdoors with your pup in the mornings and evenings. Use common sense, know the warning signs, and trust me — your dog is probably happier to skip that festival and lounge on your couch in the air conditioner anyway!


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