Summer is finally here, and with it comes that vacation you’ve been looking forward to, cookouts with friends, and all sorts of fun times. But don’t forget that your furry friend isn’t made to handle the heat as well as homo sapiens. Heatstroke is all too common for dogs, especially if left locked in a parked car in the Summer heat. How bad is it to leave your pooch in the car, just for 5 minutes while you run into the store? Bad. Here’s why.
Dr. Ernie Ward, veterinarian and founder of the Seaside Animal Clinic in Calabash NC, recently has been posting about the dangers of leaving your dog unattended in a parked car. In his latest experiment, he locked himself in a parked car for 30 minutes, just to see what a dog might experience. At only 10 minutes in, the temperature in the car had already risen to 106˚F.
Check out his video for yourself, but just make sure to keep reading for signs of heatstroke in dogs, and also a cool poster/flyer to help raise awareness!
The thing is, you don’t have to leave your dog unattended in a parked car for your dog to get heatstroke. Heatstroke is simply when your dog gets too hot and overheats. Long hikes or overexertion playing frisbee are just some basic examples of how your dog could overheat. Don’t get me wrong, exercise is great for your dog, but you might want to consider playing those games of catch earlier in the morning before it gets too hot outside.
Heatstroke is more common in older dogs and in dogs that are overweight. If your dog has overheated in the past, she may be at greater risk of heatstroke. Also if you have a long-haired dog, or a dog breed for colder climates (such as huskies or the samoyed), or if you have a short-nosed breed, pay closer attention for signs of heatstroke.
Signs of Heatstroke
Here are some signs and symptoms to look for to tell if your dog is overheating. If your dog’s body temperature rises about 103˚F, you’ll want to find ways of cooling him down. When your dog is panting, that’s how he tries to cool himself (dogs don’t have sweat glands: our central air-conditioning system). So when you see your dog panting, take another glance to make sure he’s okay.
- Make sure he has plenty of water
- Check for excessive drooling
- Check his gums and tongue, they should be pink-not red or purple
- Check to see if he has a rapid heart-rate
- If he is uncoordinated, or wobbly, start cooling him down immediately
These are the common signs, but other symptoms can include muscle tremors, shock, seizures, passing blood in the stool, irregular heartbeats, lack of urination, and unconsciousness.
Ways To Cool Down Your Dog
If your dog is exhibiting any of the signs of heatstroke, take extra precautions and cool down your dog. Make sure he has plenty of cool water to drink (not ice-water though), and you can give him ice-chips or ice cubes to lick on. There are several frozen-treats for dogs (such as Frosty Paws) that are good for cooling down body temperature. Above all, bring your dog inside or in a cool shady location—get him out of the heat. You can also place cool towels or cloths on his head and feet.
If you think your dog is experiencing heat stroke, cool him down and take him to a vet right away. Heat stroke can cause all sorts of organ problems, so you should let a veterinarian check him out just to play it safe.
Spread The Word About Heatstroke!
By now, everyone should know not to leave their dogs in the cars on summer days, but unfortunately that’s not the case. You can help spread the word by downloading this educational flyer!