Hot dog not - know what heatstroke looks like and how to help,
copyright (c) 2021 Frania Shelley-Grielen. All rights reserved.

Temperatures in New York City and around the country are hitting record degrees.  
This is prime heatstroke season for human and non-human animals. Air
conditioning, low levels of exertion and water are necessary. Exercise extreme
caution with older, younger or infirm dogs. Certain dog breeds are more stressed
by heat due to their physiognomy or facial features. Dogs such as bull-dogs, french
bull dogs, pugs, etc., are brachycephalic (short-face or short head) breeds. This '
means their breathing passages are compacted resulting in some level of respiratory
difficulty. These breeds have to work harder to breathe and tend to pant more
even in mild temperatures.

You know that keeping your dog as cool as possible is a priority right now which
means shorter walks on the shady side of the street, carrying water and a bowl to
offer your dog a drink before they look like they need one when outside and lots of AC
inside.  Remember, dogs do not have sweat glands and can only release moisture
through the pads of their feet and nose.  Dogs will cool themselves through panting
which is most effective when a dog is well hydrated and in a cooler space offering
some relief.  Watch your dog to see when they start to pant and pay attention to
that tongue, when you start to see it hanging out, it's definitely time for a drink
of water and a break in the shade.  Think as much shade as possible when outside,
even if it's waiting for a light, choose the corner with the most shade and let puppy
wait where some shade is offered.  Terribly hot asphalt and a little dog?  Pick them
up crossing the street to spare sensitive paw pads and cross as quickly as possible
with larger breeds.  Do know that as much as we want them with us all the time,
leaving them even for a minute in a hot car or tied outside can be truly dangerous.  
When it's this hot out, leaving puppy behind in the air conditioning at home is the
better way to show your love.

Having said all that you should know what to look for and do if you suspect your
dog is suffering from heatstroke. Time is critical in when responding. Mike Richards,
DVM writing on lists the following symptoms: “heavy panting,
hyperventilation (deep breathing), increased salivation early then dry gums as the
heat prostration progresses, weakness, confusion or inattention, vomiting and
diarrhea and sometimes bleeding. As the condition progresses towards heat
prostration or heat stroke there may be obvious paleness or graying to the gums.”

If you believe your dog is experiencing heatstroke act as quickly as possible. The dog
should be cooled with cool or tepid water or placed in a cool bath. If access to a bath
is not possible, wet the dog down using as much water as possible; a garden hose is
ideal, you can also place water soaked towels and/or pour bottles of water, focusing
on the armpit areas, the abdomen and the area next to the rear legs which are close
to the body. Use a fan aimed at the dog to maximize the cooling process. Driving
with the windows open and a wet dog will also help to cool the dog.

not use ice. Ice can lessen blood flow to the skin and cause blood vessels to
narrow which can have severe consequences in an animal suffering heat stroke.

The dog should be taken for veterinary attention as quickly as possible. An article by
veterinarians Flournoy, Macintire and Whol on Heatstroke in Dogs in Compendium
notes that studies have been done which “showed a mortality rate of 49% for dogs
that were not cooled by their owners versus 19% for those that were cooled before
being transported to their veterinarian.”

Heatstroke is a dangerous disease which can be fatal. The proper steps in caring for a
dog suffering from heatstroke can make all the difference.

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Frania Shelley Grielen is a masters level animal behaviorist

Heatstroke in
dogs - how to

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