Heat Stroke – Why A Hot Dog is Uncool

There’s nothing better than cruising down the highway on a warm sunny day with your dog by your side. Our fury co-pilots treat a simple ride as an epic adventure as their ears and tongues gleefully flap in the wind. Let’s face it, most dogs LOVE to go on car rides with their owners. And owners love to provide their dogs with the simple pleasure of spending some time together on the open road. But what happens when you need to run into the store for “a quick minute”?

The answer is simple: Don’t do it.

In warmer weather, one should NEVER leave their dogs (or any living being) unattended in a parked car, even if you think you won’t be long. Your dog has a higher body temp than you do and can’t cool down as efficiently as you do, either. Canines are designed more for insulation from the cold than cooling down in the heat.

Don’t Sweat It

It should also be noted that dogs cannot perspire as humans do. Dogs cool themselves by panting and releasing heat through their paws. While this is effective in some environments, it is insufficient and nearly impossible for a dog to remain cool and safe under extreme conditions.

In general, here are some helpful tips to keep your dog cool and comfortable:

  • Always have plenty of cold water readily available for your pooch.
  • Your dog should always have access to a shaded area. Plenty of ventilation is a necessity.
  • If you have a long-haired dog, be sure to give them a warm weather haircut. Long-haired dogs are a lot more likely to suffer from heat stroke than short haired dogs. Puppies and older dogs are also more prone to heat stroke as well.
  • During the warmer months of the year, NEVER leave your dog unattended in a car, doghouse, or outdoors for an extended period of time.
  • Keep in mind that dogs with shorter snouts, i.e. Boxers, Bulldogs, and Pugs, have a tendency to overheat faster than those with longer snouts – so be extra diligent with these particular breeds.
  • NEVER walk your dog on hot pavement. This can burn your dog’s paws and cost you a trip to your local vet’s office. Walking in the grass beside the sidewalk is much better for their feet.
  • Try to exercise your dog in the mornings or evenings when the temperatures are lower. You and your dog will be able to walk for longer distances and be able to spend more quality time outdoors.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can come on suddenly and unexpectedly, and can be very traumatic for both the dog and the owner. Ill or overweight dogs are especially at risk. Here are some telltale signs that your dog my be suffering from heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive panting
  • Increased salivation
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Weakness/dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Death

If you think your dog has heat stroke:

Immediately remove them to a cool or shaded area and try to bring down their body temperature. If you have access to a bathtub, place your dog in the tub and cover their entire body with cool water. If not, you can douse your dog with water from a bottle or hose. But most importantly, get your dog to your local veterinarian as soon as possible.

Having the simple willpower to leave your dog at home could save your pet’s life. And don’t worry, your faithful companion won’t hold a grudge… Upon your arrival home, chances are you’ll be greeted with a hero’s welcome and a slobbery kiss to boot.

The Final Word from Dr. Pol. . .

“My Great Danes love a good car ride, but when it’s too warm outside, I let them hog the couch and watch TV when I need to go out. Those big guys love to play and then cool off in the lake!”

Alex Tosian, Production Assistant brings in her puppy to see Dr. Brenda Grettenberger.