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Seriously - Beware the Heat!

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It's hotting up again here in the desert, so it's important to be aware and BEWARE of the dangers of overheating that can lead to fatal heatstroke in domestic pets. Seriously folks, this is a big deal.

Being left outside without adequate access to shade, or left in a car (even on a cool day!), and indeed even simply going for a walk in high heat and humidity, can all be disastrous for your dog.

Dogs regulate their body temperature through panting, so most snub-nosed breeds (bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, Pekingeses, etc.). are all at a significantly higher risk for heatstroke because their airways are smaller. Dark-coated and fat dogs are also at a higher risk. It's important, therefore, to be able to recognise the early symptoms of heatstroke: excessive panting, restlessness and distress. And if your dog continues to heat up, he'll start drooling large amounts of saliva from the nose and mouth, and may become unsteady on his feet. You may also notice his gums turning either bright red or blue in colour.

If you suspect overheating, early intervention is essential:

  • Move him out of the heat immediately and into a cooler area, and direct a fan onto him if at all possible.
  • Wet towels with cool (NOT cold!) water and place them on the back of his neck, under his arm pits and in the groin area. Make sure the fan is directed in such a way as to be blowing on these.
  • Do NOT use ice or cold water - this will cool the outside of your dog and cause blood vessels to constrict, ironically and disastrously causing the heat to be trapped inside his body. Use room-temperature tap-water.
  • Transport your dog to the vet as soon as possible for examination because simply cooling him down is only part of the process - most animals will require additional care and treatment.
  • Do not overcool your pet and do not try to force water into his mouth. If he's alert and wants to drink, then let him, but do not force.
  • As always, prevention is better than cure, so never walk your dog during the heat of the day during the hotter months of the year, and during these months you should generally limit walks at any time of the daytime. Don't leave him outside unattended in the heat and never leave him in a car, even on a cool day.

Heatstroke is a real issue, not just the "cry wolf" of scare mongers to make compelling news. So be aware, take care, and all will be fine. It is definitely possible for you and your dog to enjoy summer - just carefully, folks!

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