As the weather warms up, we tend to spend more time on indoor activities enjoying the air conditioning and relief from the heat. Despite having various hair coats that have evolved to help maintain a normal body temperature, our furry companions also suffer in the heat! Despite their love of sunshine and chasing the ball in warm weather, dogs can suffer from hyperthermia and heat stroke if allowed to get too warm.
While both dogs and cats can suffer from heat stroke, it is much more common in dogs. Dogs with long hair coats tend to be predisposed to issues. Another predisposing factor is breed; our brachycephalic friends tend to have a much higher incidence of heat stroke than other breeds (ie, our squishy face friends such as bulldogs, pugs, etc.). Overweight dogs or dogs with an underlying heart/respiratory condition also are predisposed to having issues.
Heat stroke is a very dangerous condition for our canine companions. It affects multiple organ systems, and if left unfound or untreated can be fatal. Typically, these animals present with excessive panting, drooling, heart arrhythmias, or an inability to stand. Their body temperature is over 106*F, whereas a normal temperature in a dog should be approximately 101*F. Even with medical intervention and supportive care, enough internal damage can be caused by excessive heat exposure that treatment may not be successful.
As we approach summer temperatures, it is important to keep an eye on the thermometer for our doggy friends. They should have limited time outside in direct sunlight. When outside, they should have access to water and a shady spot to relax in. If they appear to be getting too warm, it is important to bring them inside to cool off, even if they are having too much fun outside to want to come in! And it is important to remember to not leave your dog in an enclosed car. If you are concerned with how your pet is acting in the heat, please give us a call at Mt. Carmel Animal Hospital right away!