The Dog Days of Summer – Heat Stroke

With temperatures predicted to soar above 40C this week, and one dog already dead from being left in a car in a mall parking lot on a hot day recently, let’s review what we know about heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia.  Hyperthermia occurs when the body temperature rises to  above 105 F or 40.6 Celcius.  This can happen when pets are left outside on hot summer days without sufficient shade, when dogs are exercised in hot weather, or when left in a vehicle – and not just on a hot day!  A study by the Stanford University Medical Center revealed that the temperature inside a car can increase by 40 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celcius) within one hour regardless of the outside temperature.

Of special concern are brachycephalic breeds (those with a pushed-in face) such as the Pug, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso and Boston terrier. They may not be able to pant effectively, which can put them at increased risk.

If your pet is overheating, initially you will see them panting excessively and becoming restless.  After this stage, many dogs will drool excessively and become unsteady on their feet.  Their gums may turn purple or bright red in colour because of insufficient oxygen.

If you notice any of these signs, immediately move your pet to a cool, shady place and direct a fan towards them.  Place cool, wet towels over the neck, armpits, and groin. Take them to the nearest veterinary facility.

If you see a dog in a car on a hot day, call 9-1-1 or the Ontario SPCA emergency number at 1-888-ONT-SPCA (1-888-668-7722).

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