Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Heat Stroke in Dogs (part 2)

What do I do if he is having a heat stroke?
If you think your dog is having a heat stroke, you can try cooling him immediately by putting a wet washcloth on the back of his neck or on his groin and place a bag of frozen peas on top of the wash cloth.  You can also wet the flaps of his ears and his feet pads to further cool him off quickly.  While cooling, take his temperature.  If his temperature is 104˚F - 106˚F then it is considered moderate heat stroke and given immediate attention most dogs recover within 2 – 3 hours.  Temperatures of 106˚F - 107˚F are severe and you should wrap the dog in a wet towel and get him to a vet right away.  Temperatures over 107˚F are considered critical and your dog may die before you can reach a hospital.  Heat stroke breaks down the kidneys, lungs, and liver first, so any dog who has suffered from severe heat stroke may have permanent damage of these organs.  If you believe your dog has suffered a heat stroke you should always take him to the vet.
How to avoid heat stroke
Most often, cases of heat stroke happen when a dog is confined in a car, crate, or kennel.  But a dog can suffer from heat stroke by being left in the yard with no shade to hide under and not enough water.  To avoid giving your dog heat stroke, make sure there is a nice shaded area in the yard for his to escape to on those hot Californian days.  Especially if your dog stays in an outdoor kennel, remember that the sun moves throughout the day.  At 7 a.m. there may be a great spot under the tree in the backyard, but at 4 p.m. is that shade still there or is it in the neighbor’s yard now?  And be sure your dog has plenty of water for the entire time you are gone.   The hotter the weather the more water he will drink, so you may have to consider a different water bowl if you find his bone dry every day you get home.  Or you might just put the bowl under an outdoor water faucet that can drip continuously into the bowl throughout the day.  For larger water loving dogs that like to play in their water bowl, you may want to consider a small plastic pool to fill up instead (fill up only a quarter of the way to prevent drowning).      
Your dog will do the best he can to keep himself healthy, but he really relies on you to give him the care he needs and to keep his best interest at heart.  Think twice the next time you have a quick errand to run with your dog in the car. Is it something that can wait? Is it a sunny or humid day?  Please remember his life is in your hands.

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