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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Health


For dogs, heat stroke really is no sweat
 

A sunny summer day may seem perfect to you for a walk in the park or along a sandy beach, but these kinds of seemingly delightful days can be quickly turn into a death trap for playful dogs, a leading animal welfare agency warns.Even short walks along hot pavement, attending outdoor events and sitting inside automobiles - even with windows open - can quickly lead to deadly heat stroke for dogs, who are especially susceptible to it because they lack sweat glands and can only pant to cool down, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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“A hot car can be a death trap for dogs, it is as simple as that," Mark Evans veterinary adviser for Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, states in a media release. "Leaving your dog in a car, even on an average warm, even cloudy summer day, can put your pet at huge risk of suffering and even death. This is not a new warning, but sadly too many people still don’t appreciate how dangerous it can be ... Don’t let your dog be the one to find out the hard way.”

The temperature inside a car can soar to 117 degrees within 60 minutes, even when the outside temperature is just 72 degrees, according to the RSPCA. Opening a window or leaving a bowl of water for your dog will make little difference and still leaves dogs in serious danger of suffering heat stroke.

Dogs have no sweat glands and must pant to help keep themselves cool, but the effectiveness of panting is reduced as the temperature and humidity rise. Excessive panting, a rapid pulse, overly red or purple gums, increased salivation and lack of coordination are warnings signs of heat stroke, according to the RSPCA. More severe signs of heat stroke include a dog's reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing or a pet suffering from seizures, vomiting or diarrhea.Owners who believe their dogs are suffering from heat stroke should take immediate action, the RSPCA says. Those actions include:
  • Immediately moving your dog to a cooler spot.
  • Slowly dousing your dog with cool, not cold, water or place in the breeze of a fan. Never cool a dog so much that it begins to shiver.
  • Continuing to douse with cool water until your dog's breathing starts to settle.
  • Giving your dog small amounts of cool water.
  • Immediately taking your dog to a veterinarian after he is stable.
Here are some tips from the RSPCA to help keep your dog safe in the sun:
  • Make sure your dog always can move into a cooler, ventilated environment.
  • Provide a cool, shady spot where you dog can escape from the sun at all times of the day if you have to leave your dog outside.
  • Make sure your dog always has a good supply of drinking water in a weighted bowl that cannot be knocked over.
  • Carry water with you on hot days and give your dog frequent, small amounts.
  • Groom your dog regularly to get rid of excessive hair. Give long-coated breeds a haircut. 
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  • Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening and never allow your dog to exercise excessively in hot weather.
  • Use a pet-safe sunscreen to prevent your dogs from getting sunburned. Dogs with with light-colored noses or light colored fur on their ears are at higher risk of sunburn.
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