January 16, 2018

Dog First Aid – Heatstroke

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We humans can remove our coats, jackets and other cold weather gears when the weather warms up. Our four legged friends wear their fur coats all the time thus they are more susceptible to heatstroke. Dogs do not sweat like humans because their very few sweat glands are located in the paws. To be able to regulate body temperature, dogs would pant. The dog’s body temperature though cannot be easily normalized simply by panting. This is the reason why heatstroke is common in dogs.

Heatstroke or hyperthermia is a very serious condition that can happen to a dog instantly. A dog that is left in the car with close windows or one that is left chained in the yard under the heat of the sun can succumb to hyperthermia. Heatstroke is a deadly condition that occurs when the dog can no longer disperse the heat that the body gains from its environment. The breakdown of cells caused by high temperatures will thicken the blood and result to dehydration. Apart from causing the blood to clot, a dog’s temperature that reaches 106°F will have a quick and very serious effect on the heart, liver, brain and other vital organs. If the body temperature is not quickly reduced, these conditions would lead to the death of the dog.

A dog owner has to be aware of the signs of heatstroke so that first aid can be immediately given to the pet. Rapid panting is one of the first signs of heatstroke. Thick saliva will drip from the bright red tongue. The dog would either have pale or red gum. Vomiting, diarrhea and a state of general weakness are other signs. The dog can die if treatment is not administered at once.

Remove the pet from the hot confined area at once. First aid treatment’s objective is to reduce the elevated temperature of the dog. This can be done by soaking the dog in cool water. Temperature can be dropped immediately by hosing the dog’s body.

Wet rolled towels can be placed on the dog’s head and neck. Temperature can be cooled rapidly by putting ice packs on the dog’s feet and by sponging the groin area. The temperature of the dog has to be reduced but very cold or ice water must not be used as it will constrict the blood vessels and prevent the heat from escaping. The cooling efforts must be stopped when the dog’s temperature has dropped to 103°F.

Read more about heatstroke and first aid for dogs at Sarah’s Dogs.

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