This very useful text was posted in Italian on the Facebook page: Adotta Un Cane Dal Canile. I have translate it into English and changed it a little bit. I hope you find it useful, I certainly did.
HOW TO AVOID A DOG GETTING HEATSTROKE
In summer the most deadly and underestimated danger for our four legged friend is undoubtedly heatstroke. Many dog owners aren’t aware that heatstroke can kill a dog in an instant. To avoid this happening we need to understand how a dog’s physiology works:
The average temperature of a dog is 38.5 °C and for that reason it’s more susceptible than we are to heat stroke.
To lower their temperature when they’re somewhere that’s too hot, dogs can’t sweat like we can. So to lower their temperature they breathe rapidly through their mouth leaving their damp tongue hanging out: this makes the saliva evaporate and thus cool their body. Panting is the main method they have for cooling down.
When it’s very hot, humid and there’s no ventilation, this system can’t work any more and the dog’s temperature inevitably starts to rise. If nothing is done or inadequate treatment is administered, the rising temperature will cause the dog to go into shock and it will then collapse and die in a very short time.
SYMPTOMS OF HEATSTROKE
- The dog is very agitated, much more than normal, restless and anxious.
- It pants excessively, quickly and is almost gasping for breath because of the increased heart rate.
- The gums and skin inside the eyes are very obviously red, sometimes violet that can quickly turn to blue as the oxygen in the blood decreases.
- It starts to become uncoordinated and confused.
- It may salivate excessively and vomit.
- Loss of consciousness, coma and death quickly follow.
- Convulsions and coma happen when the dog is in an advanced stage of heatstroke and immediate intervention is necessary.
WHAT TO DO
- Move the dog immediately into the shade
- Bathe it with cool (not cold) water or pure alcohol if there is any available as this helps the dog lose heat quickly thanks to its ability to evaporate quickly.
- For the same reason, and if any is available, dry ice helps even more.
- If possible have a fan on. This is better than air conditioning which may cause problems because of the strong drop in temperature it can give.
- Comfort the dog while cooling it down and call the vet immediately.
- Reassuring the dog helps avoid stress if you have to put him in the car and he is frightened as this can just make matters worse.
- You need to calm him as much as possible during the cooling down activities and on the way to the vets.
- An immediate vets visit is essential. A professional needs to treat the effects of shock, efficiently lower the dog’s temperature, examine the dog throughly to make sure there is no permanent damage and to prescribe the correct treatment.
HOW TO AVOID HEATSTROKE
- Don’t ever take the dog out (on the lead or – worse -by attaching the lead to a bike) during the hottest period of the day.
- NEVER shut it in the car, even in the shade with the windows open. That is just not enough to cool him down on a hot day. Keep that uppermost in your mind. If just a few sun rays hit the car it creates a fatal trap.
- Anyone who sees a dog in a hot car is allowed to call the authorities to save it from a terrible end.
- During hot summer days it’s a good idea to bathe your dog frequently, using a wet tower, stat at his paws and work your way around his body and head.
- Make sure he has plenty of water available in a shady, well ventilated spot.
- Use other means to keep him cool, for example give him an ice cube to lick, let him play with a cotton bone that has been in the freezer or give him a Kong filled with frozen cream cheese.
Make sure you enjoy the hot summer days with your best friend, but never forget that too much heat kills and it is our duty as owners to protect our pets from this danger.
You might like to read about one method I use to keep my dog cool here.