It has been quite a hot summer for us this year. Many of us have the desire to flock to the beaches to stay cool or get a good tan going during this kind of weather. One thing we need to be mindful of is prolonged exposure to extreme heat can cause us to experience heat exhaustion and sometimes heat strokes. The same thing can happen to our canine companions.

The most common way a dog experiences a heat stroke or heat exhaustion is through extended periods in an unshaded environment or locked in a car where the windows are rolled up. Dog’s that are obese and/or are a brachycephalic breed (French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs, Boston terriers, etc.) are more prone to overheat because of compromised airways.

Clinical signs of a heat stroke and heat exhaustion are similar, but heat stroke is generally more fatal compared to heat exhaustion. Once the dog’s core body temperature surpasses 104ºF, signs of heat exhaustion will begin to present. These signs include distress, excessive panting, excessive salivation, weakness, tremors and blue/purple gum color. If a dog still experiences continued exposure to the heat after developing heat exhaustion, a heat stroke can occur. Signs include difficulty breathing, pale gums, excessive salivation, vomiting, collapsing, coma, and death. 

If you as an owner notice your animal is starting to experience signs of heat exhaustion, it is best to remove them from the environment creating prolonged and excessive heat exposure at once. Cooling your dog off can be somewhat labor intensive. Place the animal in a shaded environment and apply a direct fan to them. Use a cool, wet wash cloth and place it in your dogs armpits, groin, and neck to help slowly drop their core temperature. Place some water in front of your pet, but do not force water down their throat. If you are outside on a hike or at the beach, lead your dog into the water or a shaded area to rest a little so they can cool off. Contact your veterinarian so they may assess if the animal needs medical attention. It is important to remember that it’s never cool to have a hot dog.