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Help your dog avoid heatstroke this summer

Posted Jun 20 2012 10:00am

kiddie pools help keep dogs coolEvery year, veterinarians treat dogs who needlessly develop  heat stroke. And just like people, dogs that become severely overheated can become very ill and even die. It’s important to remember that your dog cannot remove himself from a dangerous situation. It’s up to you, as your dog’s guardian, to ensure he is not left in a place where he may become overheated.

Here are a few tips to help prevent your dog from ever having to experience a heatstroke:

  • Never leave your dog unattended in direct sunlight or in a closed vehicle, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  • Ensure your dog always has access to cool water and shade in hot temperatures.
  • The pads of some dogs can be sensitive to hot pavement, so walk in the shade or grass whenever possible.
  • Limit strenuous activity during the middle of the day, when temperatures are the hottest. Exercise your dog during cooler parts of the day; in the morning and evening, not mid-day.
  • If you enjoy taking your dog to the dog-beach, make sure he does not drink the salt water. This may lead to vomiting, and dehydration. Bring lots of fresh water not just for yourself, but for your dog as well.

Invest in products and treats to help keep your best friend Fido cool:

  • Kiddie pools are a great way to keep your dog cool if they love water.
  • There are cooling packs that you can place in the freezer and place around the dogs neck to help keep cool.
  • Ice-cubes are a favorite treat for dogs.
  • Spraying the dog with cool water is helpful.

The following is a list of the major signs that may indicate heatstroke in your dog:

  • Breathing rapidly
  • Panting excessively
  • Difficulty standing
  • Restlessness
  • Bright red gums and tongue
  • Your dog lies down and is unable to get up, or doesn’t want to get up when typically he would want to get up
  • Uncontrollable defalcation or urination
  • Erratic breathing
  • Whining as if anxious

If you note any of the symptoms of heatstroke, it’s important to take action immediately. The longer you wait, the more your dog’s life is in danger. He may go into shock or even die. Get your dog out of the heat as soon as possible. If you have access to cool (not cold) water, pour it on him starting with the neck and the pads of the feet. It’s okay to give your dog very small amounts of water to drink, but do not let him gulp the water down. Contact your vet or emergency vet right away.

The onset of heatstroke can be very rapid. Planning for summer outings with your dog will ensure he never experiences any of the above symptoms. A little bit of caution means you and your dog will have a fun, safe and cool summer!

Photo credit: Usonian on Flickr

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