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Differences Between Heat Exhaustion, Heat Prostration and Heat Stroke
Hyperthermia is an increase in body temperature, primarily in response to illness or the environment. Excessive heat and humidity are a deadly combination for man and animal! This is especially true for dogs that are not acclimated to it.
Many are under the impression that dogs do not sweat. It is not true. However, where and how much they sweat is not enough to cool them down when they are in need. Dogs hardly sweat the pads of their paws. A sign of an overheated dog is wet paw prints.
The most effective way for a dog to cool down is by panting; especially if they do not have access to water, fans, air conditioning or shade.
Being outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is particularly dangerous for dogs. Being the hottest hours of the day; most dogs that suffer from hyperthermia are affected within these 6 hours.
The primary goal is prevention. However, this is not always possible. The following are the stages of progression to heatstroke. The sooner you realize your dog is in distress and take action, the greater the chance of survival.
You have less than 10 minutes to get your dog under control if he’s suffering from heat exhaustion. Anything above 103 degrees is dangerous. A body temperature above 105 degrees for more than 5 minutes is potentially fatal.
Concentrate on cooling the key areas which are their chest, underarms, groin and paw pads.
The first stage of overheating is called heat exhaustion. Symptoms include: restless, labored breathing, heavy panting, increased drooling and drooling, fast heart rate, clammy paws, anxiety, whining, disorientation, lethargy, dehydrated and/or bright red gums, tongue, inner ear and/or whites of the eyes .
The second state is thermal prostration. Symptoms include: shallow breathing, fluctuating and labored gasping, dry mouth, glassy eyes, unfocused, unresponsive to commands, pale/gray gums, confusion, restlessness due to lack of muscle control, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and/or occasionally bleeding . Immediate veterinary attention is recommended. Call your vet and let them know you’re on your way so they can be prepared for emergency action.
The third and possibly fatal stage is heat stroke. Symptoms include: pale, gray gums, loss of consciousness, labored, gasping or gasping breathing, respiratory arrest, tremors, seizures, lethargy, dehydration, thick sticky sage, vomiting, loss of bladder/bowel control, bleeding, coma, and death. If a dog’s body temperature is over 104 degrees, you have 5 minutes to get them to the nearest vet. If possible, call them so that they are prepared to take immediate action.
Helpful tips to prevent hyperthermia
– Keep your dog inside between 10am and 4pm as much as possible.
– Keep your dog well hydrated. Always make sure more than one bucket or bowl of fresh water is always accessible.
– A shaded paddling pool with 2 inches of water not only gives your dog access to drinking water; it’s a fun way to cool down quickly.
– Do a pinch test. Squeeze the skin between their shoulder blades. If it doesn’t snap back into place immediately, dehydration has begun.
– Lift your dog’s lip; press your index finger on their gum until it turns white. Release. If it doesn’t turn pink immediately, your dog is dehydrated.
– Add ¼ cup of Gatorade or Pedialyte to their buckets of water. They need extra electrolytes. Encourage them to drink, but only small amounts at a time.
– If your dog is overheated, do not let him drink water too quickly or give him water that is ice cold. It can induce vomiting, which will only worsen their dehydration.
– Only walk and exercise your dog in the cooler hours of the day.
– Carry water and collapsible bowls for longer walks.
– Keep water and a bowl in the vehicle.
– Keep the sprinkler on a low setting or hose the dog down regularly.
– Provide enough shade.
– Do not leave your dog outside unattended for more than half an hour when the weather is humid and hot.
– Give your dog ice cube treats or a block of ice made from a combination of water and either Gatorade or Pedialyte to play with. Even regular ice cubes work!
– Use a cooling collar when walking. They are available at pet stores and online.
– Provide a cooling mat in the summer. They are available at pet stores and online.
– Groom your dog. Messy hair retains body heat.
– Dogs with dark fur need special attention in direct sunlight. Refrigerate them regularly.
– Keep their weight under control. Obese dogs have a harder time cooling down.
– Never leave a puppy, senior or sick dog outside unattended.
– Do not keep your pet in a confined space such as a garage or plastic crate without adequate ventilation.
– If you must leave your dog outside in the summer, take the necessary precautions. Other than that, have someone check it. Provide a hose and ask them to spray your dog regularly. Inform them of the signs to watch for and what to do if your dog is in distress.
– If your dog has already suffered from heat-related episodes, be extra vigilant. They are susceptible to future problems.
What to do when hyperthermia started
– Do not use ice water when treating the dog. It can send them into shock!
– Hold frozen bags of vegetables to their chest, armpits, groin and paw pads. Frozen peas or corn work great!
– Wipe their armpits, groin and footpads with rubbing alcohol.
– Immediately hose them down or pour cold water on them. Focus on their chest, armpits, groin and the pads of their feet.
– Put your dog in the bathtub and shower him with cold water.
– Place the dog in the shade and if possible on wet grass, a towel or a mat.
– Place ice chips or gently squeeze from a towel; water mixed with Gatorade or Pedialyte into the corner of the dog’s mouth.
– Place your dog in front of a fan or air conditioner. If possible, soak them or place a wet towel over them.
– Get veterinary help as soon as possible.
– When transporting the dog to the vet, place a wet towel over the dog and place it on the front seat near the air conditioning vent.
Brachycephalic dogs such as bulldogs, boxers and pugs are the most common victims of heat-related problems. With their compressed face, short muzzle, and short head, their shorter upper airways reduce their ability to exhale hot air and inhale cooler air quickly enough to lower their body temperature.
Examples of breeds prone to heat sensitivity include: Boxer, Shar Pei, Great Dane, Mastiff, Boston Terrier, French Bulldog, English Bulldog, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, English Bulldog, Pekingese, Chow Chow, Rottweiler, Collie, Maltese, Pomeranian, Yorkshire Terrier, Basset Hound, Newfoundland, Japanese Mastiff, Shih Tzu, Bernese Mountain Dog, Saint Bernard, Bichon, Swiss Mountain Dog, Border Collie, Clumberland Spaniel and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Bottom line: Take extra precautions in the summer. The combination of heat and humidity is a killer. Err on the side of caution. If you suspect your pet has heat exhaustion, a layover or a stroke, don’t waste time. Cool them down as quickly as possible, focus on the key areas, and get them to the nearest vet immediately. Even if your dog responds to your treatment, follow up with your vet. Usually, once an animal suffers from heat-related problems, it becomes a permanent problem.
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