A Dangerous Time for Dogs – Heatstroke

Buffy in the car
Buffy in the car

It’s cool and cloudy when you park the car. You leave the windows open a crack for your best friend, who must stay behind, while you go inside a store, to pick up something quick. You get side tracked and spend much more time in the store than you anticipated, but you think, Doggie is okay, it’s cloudy and cool outside. An hour later you exit the store and are shocked at the bright sun and the soaring temperatures. In the meantime, poor doggie is suffering, maybe even passed out from the heat.

Could this happen to you?

It happened to me.

On a cool rainy morning, Penny, my black and white border collie mix, didn’t want to get out of the car and join us for a paddling training trip on the Wolf River in northern Wisconsin. Its okay, I thought, it’s cool outside. An hour into our training trip the sun came out and the temperature climbed twenty degrees.

“Did you park the car in the shade?” I asked my boyfriend.

“I think so. But it was raining, so I’m not sure.”

We had left a car for emergencies at our lunch stop and I asked the driver to take me to my car. As we pulled up the road, I could see my car in the hot sun. Oh God, let Penny be okay. The windows were open only a half inch. Penny lay in the only shady spot on the floor of the front seat, her chest heaving under her rapid pants, her pink tongue stretched out its full length, her eyes appeared glazed. I opened the door and pulled her out of the hot car. She wobbled as she walked to the other car.

I had gotten to her just in time. Another few minutes and she could have passed out, followed by a coma, then death.   When I got back to the river, I made her wade in and cool off. She gulped river water between rapid pants. Her panting continued for at least a half hour. Luckily she made a full recovery, and continued on the river trip with me in the canoe.

After twenty-five years, I’ve never forgotten what a close call I had that day.

How could I let my dog suffer so? She wanted to stay in the car. But sometimes you shouldn’t do what your dog wants.

The main signs of heat stroke in dogs include the following.

  • Restlessness
  • Excessive panting
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness and/or collapse
  • Disorientation
  • Wobbling
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Prevention is the best thing, but if your dog is suffering from the heat, the best thing to do is to:

  • Cool him off with water,
  • Move him into the shade, or where there is a breeze,
  • Provide plenty of cool drinking water, and
  • Allow the dog to rest. Young dogs will play too hard and may get overheated.
  • See your veterinarian if the dog doesn’t recover quickly, but cool him off before traveling.

Dogs don’t sweat, so they get overheated much faster than we do. Plan ahead and keep cool.

More information can be found at http://www.petwave.com/Dogs/Health/Heat-Stroke/Symptoms.aspx

3 thoughts on “A Dangerous Time for Dogs – Heatstroke

  1. Yes it is scary, and so easy to do. The best advise is to leave your pet at home if there is any chance of leaving it in an overheated car.

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