Vet on Set - how to avoid doggy heat stroke

Summer is fast approaching and that means the danger of heat stroke for your four-legged friend is even higher. Veterinarian Richard Fujie from the King Street Pet Hospital appeared on Sunrise to talk about what you should do to avoid it and how to treat it.

Heat stroke can be deadly in dogs and occurs quite frequently. Dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke than humans because they don't perspire.  They only have sweat glands in their paws.  Humans perspire and the cooling effect on our skin helps to bring our core temperature down.  Dogs pant to cool down.  All dogs can suffer from heat stroke, but certain factors make some dogs more prone to this problem.  Brachycephalic dogs (dogs with flat faces) are like a car with an undersized radiator and cannot cool down their body. For example, any type of bulldog would fall in this category.

How do you know that your dog is in trouble? If you are on a hike, the dog will slow down and have their head down. Their tongue will be out and sometimes flaccid. The tongue may be bright red, but have pale gums.  The dog may be panting, have rapid breathing and may be disoriented.  Vomiting and diarrhea may occur and an increased heart rate.

How can we prevent heat stroke? Make sure your pet always has access to water. On a hike, stop frequently and offer them water. Avoid mid-day hikes. Hot and humid, windless days are the worst times to take a hike with your pet. Provide shade for your dogs and have them stay in shady areas, if possible. Breezy shaded areas are best for your dog. After exercising your dog, allow them to cool down. Overweight, dark-colored dogs with thick coats are at a higher risk. And never leave your dog unattended in a hot car with no open windows. The temperature rises quickly, especially on a hot day, and the dog can die in the car with no ventilation.

What should you do if you suspect your dog has heat stroke? Remove your dog from the hot area. Go to a shady breezy area or an air-conditioned room with a fan. Apply cool, but not ice water to their head and body or hose them down. After applying first aid, take your dog to your vet.

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