Dogs do not generally sweat (except minor amounts through their pads) and so they find it harder to tolerate warm temperatures.
Dogs depend upon panting to exchange warm air for cool air. But when air temperature is close to body temperature, cooling by panting is not an efficient process.
Heat stroke is often caused by being left in a car, exercise in hot/humid weather, having pre existing heart/lung issues or being in an area with limited shade or water.
Signs of heat stroke often begin with excessive panting, laboured breathing and a bright red tongue and pale gums.
It is important to treat Heat Stroke quickly as it can become an emergency if the animal begins to go into shock.
To prevent heat stroke ensure you pet has access to shade and fresh cool water. Limit exercise to early mornings or late evenings when the temperatures are cooler and never leave your pet unattended in a car and when travelling long journeys use window shades to keep them cool.
Depending on what you have available to you, do your best to cool down your dog quickly;
- Pour cool water over the dog's head and body.
- Drape wet towels over your dog. Don't leave wet cloths in place for too long though, as the fur will get damp.
- Gently hose them using a very gentle stream of water, preferably a dribble or light spray (do not use it at full strength).
- Where it is possible, submerge your dog in a bathtub or tank of cool (not cold) water.
- Never use ice water or ice––this will close the skin pores, shrink the skin's surface vessels and can exacerbate the heat stroke. It can lead to shock or even cause hypothermia.
You can also use a fan or air conditioning system to help cool your dog down.
If you are interested in learning more about caring for your dogs then register for our K9 First Aid Course here.