Dog Dehydration and Heat Stroke During the Dog Days of Summer

August 05, 2014

Do you know the term "Dog Days of Summer" dates back to the Romans, who blamed the "Dog Star" Sirius on the hot Northern Hemisphere days? 

Currently in the middle of the hot, sultry dog days of summer, it's a good time to remember that dogs are just as susceptible to the heat as humans, and they need to be protected from heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration.

Heat stroke in dogs can be the byproduct of many preventable circumstances:
  • Leaving dog in a hot space (like a car or garage when the temperature is above 72°F)
  • Overexertion
  • Humidity
  • Lack of shade
If you feel a dog has become overheated or exausted, check for the following symptoms of dog heat stroke:
  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
  • Bright red, blue or gray gums
  • Rapid, increased heart rate
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Body temperature over 104°F
  • Confusion and/or disorientation
  • Seizures
 If the dog exibits signs of heat stroke, do the following immediately:
  1. Move the dog to a cool, shaded, or indoor area
  2. Submerge the dog in cold water or wet down with a hose (stop the cooling process once the dog's temperature reaches 104°F)
  3. Encourage the dog to drink water
  4. Call your veterinarian for advice and further treatment
The best thing you can do to prevent heat exaustion and heat stroke during the dog days of summer is to prevent overheating and dehydration in the first place.  Consider exercise in the morning or evenings when the temperature is cooler, provide plenty of accessible fresh water, provide a shady place for your dog outside or keep them inside during the hottest times of the day, and exercise in shady, water-friendly areas where the dog can jump in the water to cool off as necessary. 

In addition, always provide fresh water for your four-legger when outside to prevent them from drinking from waterways that could potentially be contaminated with Giardia or other diseases and bacteria.  The easiest way to do this is to pack along the small collapsible water bowl and share from your own water source.

The summer was meant to be enjoyed with your dog...it's even suggested in the alignment of the stars! So don't let the heat prevent you from a little puppy-human bonding time.  Just be smart about when and where you take your dog adventuring!


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