Yesterday we discussed the signs of heat stroke in dogs. Today we will talk about what to do if you suspect your dog may have heat stroke.
First get the dog out of the sun/heat immediately. Ideally you take your dog’s rectal temperature every 10 minutes to monitor body temperature. If it is above 103 you should take your dog to the vet immediately as this should be considered an emergency! If below 103, you can place the dog in cool, not icy water. Icy water may cause the blood vessels to constrict and inadvertently keep the body from cooling. You can also place a fan in front of the dog to aid in cooling. Do not put wet towels on the dog though since this may actually trap body heat as the towels become room temperature.
You should continue cooling your dog until the body temperature reaches 103. At that point the body should be able to continue cooling itself. However you should still make a trip to the vet to be sure no other internal organ damage was done and that the dog does not have an irregular heartbeat or seizures, which can still occur for several hours or days after an episode.
Ultimately you want to avoid a potential episode altogether. What are some ways you can help your dog avoid heat stroke?
- Keep them indoors during days above 102; this is especially true during our monsoon season when it is more humid. Keep in mind that shade isn’t always enough to keep a dog cool. Concrete and other surfaces can retain heat. As a little girl, we nearly lost 2 of our dogs when they were left under a shaded carport, with water. I came home one day to listless non-responsive dogs! Thanks in part to a neighbor who knew what to do and to immerse the dogs in cool water, our dogs’ lives were saved.
- NEVER leave dogs in a closed car for any length of time, even with the windows open. Inside car temperatures can reach over 145 degrees even in the shade in a matter of minutes!
- Do not exercise your dog in warm weather. Yes your dog may be keeping up with you on your bike, but at what potential expense to it’s wellbeing?
- Confinement of any kind without adequate shade/water or ventilation.
As your Mesa pet sitter, we want you to be aware of the warning signs and treatment for this potentially fatal issue affecting us here in Arizona. Keep your dogs hydrated and cool so they have many happy years with you.