While humans sweat to cool down in hot temperatures, dogs don't sweat excwept minimally on their paw pads. Their primary means of cooling themselves is panting. If a dog is dehydrated or the temperature rises significantly higher than the dog’s body temperature, heat stroke can ensue. If not treated immediately, heat stroke can lead to death.
Heat Stroke Causes
Dogs can suffer from heat stroke by exercising heavily in very hot temperatures, being left in a car or being forced to remain on hot asphalt or concrete for extended periods of time. Outside dogs who are given no access to shade in hot temperatures are at risk of heat stroke, as are dogs who are muzzled while they are dried with a hot air blower, such as in a grooming salon.
Heat Stroke Signs
A dog beginning to suffer the onset of heat stroke will pant heavily and have a bright red tongue. He may become restless or weak, or may exhibit symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea or confusion. His gums may begin to pale, and he’ll develop shallow, labored breathing and will eventually lay down. Untreated, the dog can slip into a coma.
Immediately following the onset of heat stroke, move the dog to an air-conditioned facility. Bring his temperature down with a cool, not cold, bath, or by placing ice packs on the insides of his legs where they meet his torso, as well as in the groin region. Place him in front of a fan, if possible. Offer water and aid temperature reduction by bathing his paws in cool water. If possible, monitor his rectal temperature, which should be brought to 103 degrees.
After Heat Stroke
A dog who suffers heat stroke needs a veterinary medical professional. Depending on how advanced the heat stroke is, the dog may require intravenous rehydration and medical intervention to ensure he hasn't suffered kidney damage. If he has suffered laryngeal edema, his breathing may be compromised and a cortisone injection or tracheostomy may be necessary to ensure he doesn’t go into respiratory distress. In extreme cases, a dog can suffer aftereffects including irregular heartbeat and seizures.
Help your dog avoid heat stroke by slowly acclimating him to outdoor activity when temperatures rise. Always provide water for your dog. If you’re hot or uncomfortable in the heat, chances are your dog is feeling the same way. Always provide shaded areas in extreme temperatures. Don't allow your dog to remain outside in high heat for extended periods of time.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.