Heat Stroke

Could it happen to your Golden?

With the hot temperatures of the summer months, it is extremely important to prevent your dog from overheating. Dogs cannot tell you when their temperature rises and it is our responsibility to ensure that they have sufficient shelter from the sun, adequate water to drink, and a way to cool off when the summer sun rises.

Monitoring your dog closely in high heat is not enough however. It seems that pet owners tend to drop their guard when the temperatures level off. Most dogs are more concerned about pleasing their master than doing what is right for them. Make sure your dog is ready for the activity that you are about to perform. Take the heat of the day into consideration. Failure to realize that exercise and subsequent confinement, whether in a hot car or crate is enough to send your dog’s body temperature skyrocketing.

A dog’s body temperature is normally between 101°F and 102°F. Dogs regulate their body temperature by panting, expelling heat out. If he can not expel the heat fast enough, his body temperature rises. A rise of 3 degrees to a temperature of 105°F is all it takes to send your dog into a dangerous situation. At this temperature, the dog can no longer reduce his body heat by panting. He can no longer satisfy his body’s increasing demand for oxygen. His temperature will continue to rise.

When the temperature hits 108°F, the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and intestinal tracts start to begin breaking down at a cellular level, and damage can progress at an alarming rate. Even immediate treatment and effective cooling to bring his temperature down can leave the dog with internal damage that may affect his health in long term ways.

Leaving your dog cooped in a hot car is a sure way to bring on heat stroke. A hot car is like an oven, with temperatures that can rise an astounding 34°F per minute!

Early Signs of Heat Stroke

Rapid breathing, dry mouth and nose, rapid heart rate, and gums that are dull, greyish-pink, or red, are all early stages of heat stroke. This IS an EMERGENCY! Even at the earliest stage of heat stroke, you may be fighting for your dog’s life. You must get him to a veterinarian as soon as possible.These symptoms can be followed in minutes by collapse, seizures, coma and death.

Double coated breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, are more susceptible because their coats retain more heat than other breeds. Seniors are more susceptible to the heat than younger dogs.

Prevention is the best cure:

  • MONITOR your dog while exercising and become familiar with your dog’s normal reaction to the heat and exercise.
  • NEVER leave your dog in the car unattended, even if the windows are rolled down. Even with the windows down, temperatures inside a car can quickly rise to above 120 degrees.
  • ALWAYS have fresh cool water available to your dog.
    Keep dogs indoors, in air conditioning if at all possible, on very hot days.
  • Make sure outdoor dogs have plenty of shade to relax in.
  • Exercise dogs early in the morning or late in the evening, or indoors in an air conditioned environment if possible.
  • If your dog enjoys water, provide a sprinkler or wading pool on very warm days.
  • If your dog is used to a cool climate or air conditioning, he should not be placed outside on warm days.