Heatstroke and dogs in the Okanagan
During the summer in the Okanagan we do see dogs with heatstroke. If you notice signs of your dog overheating such as heavy panting, restlessness, excessive drooling, bright red gums, respiratory difficulties, disorientation or collapse. Take immediate action to reduce his temperature, and get him to a veterinarian. When a dog’s body temperature rises above 105 degrees, it can be life-threatening.
Your dog can be at risk of heatstroke if he is out in the yard on a hot day. You need to make sure he has adequate shade and whether he is outside or indoors, cool water at all times.
Exercising in hot weather can cause heatstroke. On hot days, early morning and evening walks can reduce the risk of your pet getting heatstroke. Take water with you, take shorter walks, and let your dog rest if he needs to.
If your dog needs to wear a muzzle for any reason, be aware it restricts his ability to pant, placing him at greater risk of heatstroke.
Heatstroke commonly occurs when a dog is left in a vehicle without adequate ventilation. Temperatures can rise to a fatal temperature in 20 minutes or less in a parked vehicle, even with the windows slightly open.
When a dog starts to overheat, he will rapidly pant and appear in distress. As the heat stress gets worse, his gums and tongue may turn purple or bright red from lack of oxygen. The skin may feel hot to your touch and may also be bright red. The dog may stagger, grow weak and experience diarrhea or vomiting. Sometimes a dog will drool thick, sticky saliva.
If the dog’s excessive drooling suddenly stops, you might think he’s adapting to the heat but he’s not, he is dehydrated. Dehydration can damage the liver, kidneys and heart. If measures aren’t taken to reduce an overheating dog’s body temperature, heat stroke can be fatal.
If your dog is suffering from heatstroke, immediately move him to a cool, shaded place. Wrap cool — not cold — wet towels around his neck, chest, abdomen and legs, and wet his ear flaps and paws. Don’t use cold water, ice baths or ice: Cold substances on an overheated body cause blood vessels to constrict, retaining heat. Directing a fan on your dog can help to speed up the cooling process. Offer cool water to your dog, but don’t force him to drink. Transport your dog to the nearest veterinarian, even if he seems to have recovered. Heatstroke can cause widespread damage to your dog’s internal organs that may not be apparent until hours or days later.