From flea and tick prevention and heartworm medication to grooming and food, it is easy to see the challenges of being a dog owner. Of course, the joy your dog brings to you and your family makes it all worthwhile. Because your dog is part of your family, you will want to include them on all the fun throughout the summer. Unfortunately, the heat and sun can affect your dog's health, so it is important to be prepared for the blazing sun and high temperatures of the season. With this guide, you will understand the dangers of heatstroke and learn how to protect your dog this summer.

Understanding Heatstroke

One of the most common misconceptions about heatstroke is that it is caused by a fever. If your dog has a virus or infection, their core temperature will increase drastically, resulting in a fever that signals the immune system to begin fighting the illness.

Heatstroke occurs when your dog's exterior temperature is 106 degrees or higher. This increase may occur from overexerting itself while running and playing or fun being in an excessively hot environment, such as outdoors in the sun with no shade and water or inside a car with no ventilation.

Dogs with moderate heatstroke, meaning they have an exterior temperature between 102 and 104 degrees, can recover if moved into a cooled environment with plenty of cold water. Dogs with more severe heatstroke (temperatures of 106 or higher) will require emergency veterinary care.  

Knowing the signs of heatstroke will help you understand when your dog needs assistance. Here are a few common signs of heatstroke:

  • Rapid panting
  • Red tongue
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Thick saliva
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If your dog's temperature does not decrease, their organs may begin to shut down. In many instances, this can result in death. As soon as your dog shows any of the above signs, bring them into a cooled environment and seek out emergency veterinary care at a place like Metzger Animal Hospital.

Protecting Your Dog This Summer

With summer approaching, knowing how to protect your dog is imperative for preventing heatstroke. Using common sense is your best weapon against heatstroke, but having a few reminders can protect your dog even further.

Do not let your dog linger outside for long periods of time when temperatures are high. They should avoid spending time running and playing in these extreme temperatures, as well. If they will be outdoors, be sure there is a clean bowl of cold water available to them. Dump old water and wipe the bowl down periodically before refilling with cold, fresh water.

It is also helpful to provide your dog with shade when outdoors. Consider building them a dog house, where they can find relief from the blazing sun. Or, install a sunshade on a few trees. This will allow your dog to rest under the shade when they need relief from the sun.

Never allow your dog to lay on a patio or deck that receives full sun. without shade, the concrete, asphalt, stone, wood, or vinyl will become too hot in the sun.

Even though numerous news reports have been shown on television, many people still think it is okay to leave their dog in cars. It will only take seconds for the temperature inside the car to reach oven-like degrees. You may be shocked to learn that temperatures can reach 120 degrees inside a car on a day that is only 78 degrees outside.

The rising temperatures and bright sun can wreak havoc on your dog's health and wellness. Thankfully, proper understanding will ensure your dog does not suffer from discomfort and life-threatening heatstroke this summer season.