300th Post ! Safety Tip: How to Handle Heat. And Happy 4th of July

Today is a hot one. I was going to write about tips for the 4th of July- but I have already done that. Click Here to review that Holiday Tip. Instead, since I just finished reading a newspaper article about a person charged with animal abuse who left a dog in the car causing it to die of heat exposure, I thought I would talk about HEAT.

Air movement, shade, and water are the 3 keys to tolerating a hot day. A day outside may not be as comfortable as one spent in the air conditioning, but if adequate water, shade and air movement are maintained, then it should remain just uncomfortable, but not deadly. Dogs (and people) who are not acclimated to the heat will experience a greater level of discomfort and are more likely to experience heat stress than those who are acclimated to the weather. If you are not acclimated to the heat, then limit your excercise to the morning and evening when the day time temperatures are cooler. If you are going to be spending long days out doors, then it is best to begin the acclimation process by spending time outdoors, but in a rested and relaxed state, not exerting energy. You can gradually build up your periods of exertion mixed with periods of rest- making sure all the while that water is available as needed.

Dogs normally pant to cool their body temperature (they do not sweat), so how will you know when your dog is experiencing excessive heat stress, and not just "being hot". The first step is always observation. Know what is "normal" for your dog (outside). If your dog begins to hyperventilate, it is a sign that they are not able to dissipate enough heat to regulate their body. They should be offered additional water, wet down, and more air flow should be provided. Most of the time this will suffice. If your dog is confused, is weak, or has dry gums, move into an air conditioned area if possible, offer water, and follow the How to cool a Heat Stressed Dog written below. If your dog experiences these symptoms, seek veterinary assistance to confirm that no complication have occurred. The normal temperature for a dog ranges from 100 degrees to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are going to be traveling a lot with your dog, it might be a good idea to pack a thermometer.

As heat stress progresses towards Heat Stroke, the gums will become pale or gray, vomiting, diarrhea, and eventually seizures may result. Temperatures above 105 degrees Fahrenheit is dangerous and can be life threatening. Most dogs won't experience this sort of distress in a normal environment; however Heat Stroke can occur VERY quickly if your dog is left in a car or other closed environment. NEVER, NEVER, EVER leave your dog in a closed vehicle. Vehicles can reach temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit in a short period of time. If you are traveling with your dog, take a spare set of car keys with you. If you need to make a stop for any reason, leave your car running with the air conditioning on (and since your dog will be in a crate- it won't "drive off" or move the shift lever!!!!!). Lock the car keeping the spare keys in your pocket you you can get back in.

How to Cool a Heat Stressed Dog
1. Apply ice or cool packs to the a) "armpits" b) groin area and c) the neck
2. Increase the air movement by fanning, or blowing - or better yet, move to an air conditioned area such as a car or building.
3. Immerse the dog in a tepid (not really cold) water bath, or pour cool water in the armpits, groin area and over the neck.
4. Seek Veterinary assistance.

Let me repeat: Air movement, shade, and water is all that is really needed to be able to be outside all day - even on hot days like today.

Happy (and safe!) 4th of July!

Acadia Shelties  – (July 6, 2010 at 11:13:00 AM PDT)  

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