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How to help your dog survive the heat?

How to help your dog survive the heat?

Summer is fast approaching, and Poland is already flooding with a heat wave. During such high temperatures, we look for refreshment, install air conditioners, drink cold drinks and wear thin clothes to cool down. And how our dogs cope with high temperatures? How can we help them survive such high temperatures?? How to avoid overheating your dog's body? Read the article and you will know the answers to these questions.

  • How dogs regulate their body temperature?
  • Risks related to excessive ambient temperature
  • How to lower your dog's body temperature in case of overheating or heatstroke?
  • Which dogs are more likely to overheat?
  • How to help your dog on hot days?

How dogs regulate their body temperature?

Many dogs do not feel comfortable with the air temperature in the shade above 25 ° C. In addition, it is difficult to interrupt hot days for dogs who live in cities, where it is even warmer, and the asphalt and pavements can heat up to very high temperatures. Hence, dogs trigger mechanisms to regulate body temperature, so-called thermoregulation.

Normal dog body temperature is about 2 ° C higher than human body temperature and is about 37.5-39.2 ° C (depending on age and size). Importantly, dogs have a very limited ability to lower their body temperature and are less able to cope with it than we do. We cool ourselves with the entire surface of the body, because our skin has sweat glands that release heat very effectively. Dogs, unlike us, do not have sweat glands on their skin, they only have them on the pads of their feet and their nose. You can notice this on hot days when your dog leaves wet footprints on the floor as he walks. The dog carries away the most heat through the mouth, ears and paws. Dogs cool their bodies mainly by panting - they accelerate their breathing and hang out their tongue through which the heat is released to the outside.

When talking about the language, one interesting fact is worth mentioning. The language of most animal species is light pink, however the exception to this rule is chow-chow, whose tongue is

blue! This breed is over 2,000 years old and comes from Mongolia. According to ancient legend, the chow-chow, as a half-dog and half-dragon, decided to defeat the gods to eliminate the night by licking the dark color from the sky. The punishment for this offense against the gods was to change the color of the tongue from pink to blue. Now, scientific research has come to grips with this tale. It has been proven that the unusual color of the tongue is caused by an increased amount of melanin - a pigment that occurs mainly in the skin and hair, giving them a dark color. Interestingly, puppies are born with a pink tongue and the color change begins as the puppies open their eyes.

And where are the receptors that receive information about temperature, the so-called thermoreceptors? In dogs, they are located, among others, on the skin and abdominal cavity. There they perceive thermal stimuli and then send signals to the body's thermoregulation center. All these processes are aimed at lowering the body temperature, but if they do not work properly or the dog is in a hot environment for too long, hyperthermia develops. Hyperthermia is an increase in body temperature that very quickly leads to heat stroke.

Risks related to excessive ambient temperature

Risks related to excessive ambient temperature

The heat can cause dogs to overheat, dehydrate, and even cause heatstroke. You must know that from a physiological point of view, overheating the body is much more dangerous than cooling it down.

Heat exhaustion is a great danger for dogs. When temperatures rise above 30 ° C, many dogs simply lose their strength. Our pets are more tired than usual after walks, they do not have the strength to return home, they eat, pant and wander under their feet. The body of such a dog does not appear to be overheated, but it is much weaker, even though it may still be active. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dry mucous membranes and tongue, thick saliva, dry, stiff and inelastic skin. Additionally, the urine is small, the color is more intense, and the dog is lethargic, gasping and panting more. All these symptoms indicate that your dog is dehydrated.

A stroke occurs when the body overheats and the mechanisms of heat release are disturbed. The state of heat exhaustion, i.e. dehydration in hot weather, is very conducive to a stroke. We speak of a stroke when the body temperature exceeds 40.5 ° C. It is an emergency and poses a direct threat to the dog's life. The dominant symptom of heat stroke is elevated body temperature - above 40-41 ° C. This condition is called hyperthermia. A dog's internal body temperature above 42 ° C already causes irreversible damage to the body, which results in severe organ damage and can even cause death. Symptoms of stroke are also drooling with thick and sticky saliva, rapid and excessive gasping, agitation, shortness of breath, dullness, staggering, dryness and congestion, diarrhea and vomiting. Additionally, increased heart rate, fast peripheral blood pulse (preferably checked in the femoral artery), visual disturbances, seizures and loss of consciousness. In addition, increased wheezing, foam on the face and foamy vomiting are observed in short-necked (brachycephalic) dogs. An additional symptom is the characteristic posture of the body - the dog stretches its neck and head in front of him and up, and his paws are set wide apart. All of these symptoms are due to the dog's body being unable to cope with the consequences of overheating. A quick response to this condition is crucial to your dog's health and life.

How to lower your dog's body temperature in case of overheating or heatstroke?

How to lower your dog's body temperature?

If you notice disturbing symptoms and you suspect heat stroke, you must act immediately. The first thing you need to do is move your dog to a shaded area where the cooling can begin. It is very important not to suddenly reduce the temperature of the animal! Never pour ice cold water over your dog or immerse him in it, as this may worsen the current condition, aggravate the shock symptoms and lead to other abnormalities. Start by moistening your dog's body with cool water and applying cold compresses, e.g. from wet towels. The most important areas that need to be cooled down are the head, neck and groin area. If the dog wants to, it is worth providing him with fresh, cool water, just remember to give it in small portions, but often. If possible, place the fan directly on the dog to gently lower his body temperature. Remember that cooling must be gradual. After taking the first necessary steps, contact the veterinary clinic and arrange transport, as a dog after a stroke requires specialist care.

The canine patient in the veterinary clinic undergoes oxygen therapy and cooling down the body. Rapid intravenous infusions of fluids (drips) are made, and even gastric lavage with cool fluids to lower the temperature in the abdominal cavity. Blood is also taken for tests to assess the efficiency of internal organs and to assess the degree of dehydration. Medicines and additional tests may also be implemented. The patient then undergoes 24-hour observation and body temperature control. Cooling down is complete when the dog's body temperature drops to 39 ° C.

In summary, in the event of a stroke, do the following:

  1. Move the animal to a shaded place.
  2. Moisten the body with cool (not icy!) water.
  3. Apply cool compresses to the head, neck and groin area.
  4. Provide access to fresh, cool water.
  5. Take your dog to a treatment facility.

Time is of the essence with heat stroke, so don't wait a second to notice any disturbing symptoms.

Which dogs are more likely to overheat?

All dogs are at risk of overheating and eventually having a stroke. Some animals, however, are more sensitive to high temperatures. Short-skulled (or brachycephalic) dogs, which have a very short muzzle, are especially vulnerable. Such breeds include, but are not limited to:

  • french bulldogs,
  • English bulldogs,
  • pugs,
  • Pekingese,
  • shih-tzu,
  • King 's Charles Cavalier Spaniel.

The other anatomical structure of the muzzle (very shortened muzzle) does not allow for free ventilation and heat dissipation. As a result, the cooling of the body is extremely difficult due to, among others.in. too narrow nostrils or too long palate. Therefore, in the body of a dog of the brachycephalic breed, which has difficulty breathing, oxygen deficiency and hypoxia are created. Working dogs are another dogs that are more sensitive to heat. Their physical activity during this time should be properly limited and access to shade and fresh water should be provided. Additionally, older dogs, in which thermoregulation processes are no longer as efficient, and very young dogs, in which these processes are not so efficient, are particularly vulnerable. Another factor that makes some dogs more difficult to cope with heat is health. First of all, animals with diseases, including chronic diseases of the circulatory system (i.e.in. diseases of the heart) and the respiratory system. Obese animals also have impaired heat transfer processes.

How to help your dog on hot days?

How to help your dog on hot days?

On hot days, when the heat is pouring down from the sky, walk your dog early in the morning and late in the evening. You can take extra walks during the day to take care of your physiological needs, but keep them short. Give up additional physical activities, such as chasing a ball or a stick. Do not encourage your dog to take an extra dose of exercise, do not organize longer hikes or bike rides. Choose the walking route so that it runs in the shade, preferably with the shortest possible contact of the dog's paws with the hot asphalt or pavement. If it is possible, on hot days, lead your dog on a different surface, e.g. grass or path. If there is a risk of burns to the pads of the dog's paws, special dog shoes are also available on the market. In addition, the skin of hairless breeds (eg. Mexican naked dogs, crested dogs) should be protected with sunscreen. These creams should be intended for dogs, not humans, as a dog's skin has a different pH than human skin. If you limit your outdoor activities and your dog is bursting with energy in the house, arrange for him to smell games or teach him new commands or polish the learned ones. See the article "Dog Boredom: How To Know And Remedy Your Dog Is Bored? "So as not to make your dog " blow "the whole house out of boredom.

If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, it must have access to shade. If the dog has a kennel, you must know that it is not the best shelter from the sun. The kennel heats up quite quickly and has poor ventilation, so it is better to organize another source of shade. You can add a sprinkler to your dog or provide a swimming pool to cool down.

Constant access to fresh water is essential. Water makes up about 70-80% of a dog's lean body mass, and a 5% drop in hydration can be a serious health risk. The average daily water requirement is about 20-50 ml of water for every kilogram of the animal's body weight. In hot weather and during exercise, the demand increases. Pay special attention to the fact that in hot weather there is not enough water in the bowl, check it at least several times a day. Remember that lake and sea water will not do the job of fresh tap water. In addition, it is worth adding appropriate electrolytes to the water, which are available on the veterinary market, to prevent deficiencies in the body. Additionally, you can set up special stands that prevent water from spilling out, or set up an additional bowl. It's also a good idea to give your dog ice cubes - it is also fun for the dog. It is necessary to adjust the size of such ankles so that the dog cannot swallow such ankle or lick it for too long (so as not to lead to throat diseases).

While walking, you can either moisten your dog's skin or let him submerge in the water. Currently, there are more and more places allocated to dogs in public space, where dog water bowls are displayed. Nevertheless, it is worth taking a walk with you to take a supply of water and a travel bowl to be able to give your dog quench his thirst.

For walks, under no circumstances should wear a nylon muzzle (the so-called. veterinary). If the dog must wear a muzzle, it should be a physiological or basket muzzle that allows for gasping. By preventing your dog from panting by using veterinary muzzles, you doom him to overheating. Such muzzles work well during a short treatment in a veterinary office, but not for daily walks with the dog. If you see a dog walking in such a muzzle on a hot day, be sure to pay attention to its handler - most often the keepers are simply not aware of its harmfulness.

Various accessories are available on the market to cool the dog's body, including.in. cooling lairs, spraying fountains and cooling vests. The cooling mat is filled with a special cooling agent that activates under the weight of the dog. There are also those that need to be left in the refrigerator for several hours to cool down and only then used.

If you leave your dog home alone, don't keep him in a small and stuffy room. Ideally, your dog should have access to cool surfaces such as. ceramic tiles. Make sure the windows are shaded.

Never leave your dog alone in the car. If you must park, don't leave your dog inside. Leaving the car in the shade, even when the temperature is moderate and opening the window, will not prevent the immediate heating of the interior of the vehicle. Remember that dogs' thermoregulation processes are not as efficient as ours and although it may seem to us that it is just warm, it may pose a threat to the dog. The car heats up very quickly and very quickly, the air temperature can reach 60 ° C. If you see a dog locked in a car, be sure to call the emergency number 112, call the municipal police or the police. You can also break a window if your dog's life is at stake or it takes too long to get help. Leaving your dog in the car at high temperatures is considered a bullying, and under the Animal Welfare Act you can even be imprisoned.


Your dog's health and life depend on you!

Remember that the health and life of your ward depends on you and you are responsible for them. We must be vigilant and sensitive to the dangers that come with high temperatures, especially for dogs that are more exposed to it. Observe your pet, its behavior and health, and intervene immediately if necessary. Also pay attention to other caregivers who may simply not have the knowledge and experience to notice that their caregivers suffer from overheating.

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