Have you ever been on a hike, or a 5k walk, or at the dog park and your dog begins to pant out of control and act disoriented? Could be heatstroke, and indoor dogs who engage in activity in the summer heat are especially prone to it.
An excellent article in the July/August issue of Ducks Unlimited talks about heatstroke in dogs and how to prevent it. I thought I’d pass along the main points, giving credit to the source of this excellent information.
Heatstroke is more common when high temperatures meet high humidity levels. Indoor dogs who are not normally active are prone to heatstroke when they engage in activity outdoors in hot weather. Signs of heatstroke include disorientation (a well-trained dog suddenly doesn’t respond to a command); staggering, and later, vomiting and diarrhea.
If your dog becomes overheated, act quickly to bring his or her body temperature under control. If there is water nearby and you can get your dog to swim or even stand in it, that’s ideal. If you have a first-aid kit in the car, pour alcohol over your dog’s feet and the front and back “armpits”, where most of the heat is concentrated. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, spray your dog with water and place him or her in front of a fan if possible. If you’re at the dog park, this may mean heading home with the air conditioning on. Allow your dog to drink, but not a lot, as a dog in this condition will lap incessantly, then regurgitate the water in a couple of minutes. To assure that water gets in and stays in, limit intake.
The best way to prevent heatstroke is prevention. Keep your dog at a trim weight. Provide daily exercise. Provide fresh water while you’re outside with your dog in the hot weather to keem him hydrated. Slow down physical activity if your dog’s panting becomes labored, until it’s back under control.