Dog fur is great protection against the cold but can be a problem in hot weather. This is because, unlike humans, dogs eliminate heat by panting. When panting isn’t enough, their body temperature rises. This can be fatal if not corrected quickly.
Any hot environment can cause heat stroke, but the most common cause is careless actions such as leaving a dog in a car on a hot day. And it doesn’t have to be that warm outside for a car to become dangerously hot inside…
“What if the car window is down?”
Rolling down the windows has been shown to have little effect on the temperature inside a car. On a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120° in a matter of minutes—even with the windows partially open.
“I just needed to run into the grocery store for milk.”
When it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 99 degrees Fahrenheit within 10 minutes.
“But the car was running and the air conditioning was on..”
Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car for any period of time. And heat stress isn’t the only danger your pet faces when left alone in a car. Many pets are stolen each year from unattended cars.
“What are the signs of heat stroke?”
Signs include heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting or a deep red or purple tongue.
“What should I do if my dog is overheated?”
If your pet is overheated, immediately bring them to a cooler place, offer cold water and sprinkle (don’t immerse) them in cold water as it can be dangerous to bring their body temperature down too fast. Cold wet towels work too. And get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible for the appropriate treatment.
Enjoy Summer. Stay Cool.
Dr. Jessica Melman
Bespoke Veterinary Services