Nothing like romping outside with your dog on a warm spring/summer day. Going for car rides together, doing those errands together…… whoops. Wait, stop right there, the best way to run car errands with a dog – is to NOT. Doesn't matter if you crack open those car windows, if it's hot outside, leave your dog home, or do what I do.
Here's what you may not know. When you leave your dog in a shut off car on a hot day – it may seem fine upon your return, you may notice some heavy panting but still you think, it is okay. The reality is on a warm/hot day the inside of a car acts like an oven and the temperature can increase to 150 º F within 15 minutes and this can result in permanent brain or organ damage that you may not know about until it's too late. Your dog might not survive or could require lifelong treatment. It's just not worth it! When a dog is exposed to high temperatures, inside or outside, heat stroke can result.
Here are the signs of heat stroke.
Uncontrollable, vigorous panting.
Tongue and gums initially bright red and then as pet gets worse becoming progressively blue or gray.
Rapid heart beat.
Foaming at the mouth.
Tacky or dry gums.
Lying down and unwilling/or unable to get up.
Vomiting, dizziness or disorientation.
Increased rectal temperature.
A dog's normal body temperature is 100.4º – 102.5º. In hot weather, a dog's temperature that reads 103 – 105 and above can be a sign of heat stroke, so taking its temp is the fastest, surefire method to determine if your dog may be experiencing heat stroke.
Learn how to take your dog's temperature if you don't already know. Now, don't be squeamish. It's easy to do and really doesn't bother your dog. Get a digital thermometer and some lubricant, like vaseline. You just need a little on the end, hold onto your dog – not too tight, ( I kneel to the side of Rosy, wrap my arm around her rib cage to keep her still) and insert the thermometer in its anus just about an inch. It just takes a moment to register. (By the way, a rule about these thermometers, "Once a rectal, thermometer, always a rectal thermometer". Make sure you label it with your pet's name.)
You also need to be mindful of overexposure to the heat when you are playing or walking your dog when it's really hot outside. Certain types of dogs such as obese ones or short nosed breeds like, Pugs, Bulldogs and Pekinese are more sensitive to heat. My dog Rosy, (none of those breeds), gets hot very fast, but luckily she self monitors and leads me single-mindedly to the closest shady place she can find to lie down until she is cooled off and ready to carry on. I'm glad she does this.
1. Move dog out of the heat away from sun right away.
2. Begin cooling dog by placing cool, wet rags, washcloths or towels on the body, especially the foot pads and around the head.
3. DO NOT use ice or very cold water. Extreme cold can cause the blood vessels to constrict, preventing the body's core from cooling and actually causing the internal temperature to further rise. Making it worse!
4. Offer your dog some cool water – but do not force it into its mouth.
5. Call or visit your vet right away – even if your dog seems better. Remember, internal damage may have happened and may not be obvious to the naked eye.
To protect your furry family member in summer weather, do these things. Carry that extra set of car keys and have a digital thermometer for your pet at home and keep one in the car's glove compartment.
If caught early, some dogs can recover fully from heat stroke. Don't assume that just because your dog keeps playing fetch non stop in 90 º F. that it's fine and the heat can't hurt her, It can. You must be the keeper of caution for your beloved canine in hot weather.