Heat exhaustion in dogs is a very serious medical condition. It can happen suddenly making medical treatment necessary to save your dog’s life. What does it look like? A dog experiencing heat exhaustion will appear lethargic, listless, and almost drunk like. It’s tongue may be hanging out and he/she may not be able to stand. According to Dr. Richards, DVM of VetInfo.com, “Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy panting, hyperventilation (deep breathing), increased salivation early then dry gums as the heat prostration progresses, weakness, confusion or inattention, vomiting or diarrhea and sometimes bleeding. ”
A dog experiencing heat exhaustion needs to be cooled down immediately. It is commonly thought to do this one can simply place cool water on a dog’s back or belly. However, a dog cools itself down by releasing heat via their tongue during panting and via the pads of their feet. The dog’s coat is likely to insulate or prevent the absorption of the cool water. Dr. Richards suggests placing cold packs on your dog in areas where circulation is very good such as under the “armpits”, in the inquinal region, and on the neck. If your dog’s condition doesn’t immediately improve, transport your dog to your veterinarian or a 24 hour veterinary clinic for emergency medical care.
To prevent heat exhaustion:
- Always provide your dog with fresh cool water to drink.
- Supervise your dog’s outdoor activities (note it is possible for a dog to experience heat exhaustion even during moderate temperatures such as 70 degrees).
- Provide your dog with a kiddie pool filled with fresh cool water in which he/she can step in to cool down their feet.
- On heat advisory days, keep your dog in an air conditioned home as much as possible.
- Never leave your dog in a car, even for a few minutes during a hot day. Having the windows rolled down a few inches will not provide your dog the needed ventilation. Your dog can die within minutes of being confined to a hot enclosed car.
- Do not leave your dog in a vehicle with the air conditioner running. The car may stall or catch on fire due to the excessive heat.
By following the above tips, you can prevent your dog from experiencing heat exhaustion and thus save your dog’s life.