Summer is becoming a real problem for animals, more and more dogs are brought to veterinary clinics with heatstroke. Pet Reader will explain to you how to avoid overheating, what to do in an emergency and why it is so dangerous.
Heatstroke, also called hyperthermia, is most commonly seen in dogs left in parked cars in the sun. In a closed car in direct sunlight, the temperature can rise to 50 degrees in a few minutes, even if it’s only 20 degrees outside.
Heatstroke after exercises, such as cycling or jogging, is less common but affects dogs with anatomically “normal” physiques. Many breeds are unable to regulate their body temperature on their own due to coat structure or head anatomy.
Some Dogs Get Heatstroke Faster
Short-nosed breeds like the Pug, French Bulldog, or Shih Tzu are especially at risk because they are missing an important body part that helps lower body temperature: the nose. It contains a complex system of turbinates, which are twisted in a spiral and therefore have a very large surface area. A lot of water can evaporate on this large surface, which then cools the air we breathe. Short noses have clearly drooping turbinates, so they have little or no opportunity to cool the air they breathe. This increases the risk of heatstroke.
However, exercising in the scorching midday sun can lead to life-threatening heatstroke in any dog. Therefore, in the summer: classes are transferred to the evening or early morning hours, the animal rests during the day. Even the most active dog will quickly learn this.
Heavy Breathing, Drooling, and Restlessness are the First Warning Signs
The first sign of overheating is incessant breathing. Shortness of breath creates an air stream that quickly and efficiently allows fluid to evaporate on the tongue, providing localized cooling. To suffocate, a dog needs to engage a huge amount of chest muscles, which in turn generate heat. After a few minutes, the respiratory muscles will generate more heat than the cooling effect on the tongue can compensate for.
Therefore, the dog needs to take breaks while breathing. If he does not do this and does not breathe for ten minutes or more, he has problems with body temperature. Dogs exposed to heat stress can also salivate and become very restless.
If your dog exhibits these symptoms and you react directly, you can usually avoid the worst consequences. However, if the first warning signs are not noticed, heatstroke can lead to shock, shortness of breath, vomiting of blood, seizures, coma, and ultimately cardiac arrest.
If a dog was already in shock, organs may fail in a few days due to a bleeding disorder.
How to Properly Cool Your Dog During Heatstroke
According to the veterinary definition, heatstroke occurs at a body temperature of 41 degrees. If you notice this with your dog, you need to cool it immediately with wet towels, showers, and cooling pads. After that, you should immediately contact your veterinarian or clinic.
There are a few things to keep in mind: Do not use ice water or ice, as this constricts the skin vessels at the surface and makes it difficult for heat to dissipate through the skin. Hot blood remains “stuck” in the body. Wet blankets or towels should never lie on top of the animal, as heat can build up underneath.
In the event of heat stroke, it is ideal to rinse the dog with running cool water and place it on wet blankets during transport. Cooling pads wrapped in towels can also be placed between your legs.
What Does a Veterinarian Do with Heatstroke?
Your vet will give your dog an IV to keep the blood from getting too thick. This can cause terrible organ damage. Depending on how unwell your dog is feeling, it may need to be hospitalized for intensive care.
To avoid such a dire scenario, first of all, keep a close eye on your dog and be attentive to him on hot days. Also, educate others about this topic to prevent further dramatic incidents.