Heat exhaustion in dogs. Dog lying on the floor panting.

On lazy, hazy days of summer, we naturally want to be outdoors more often. And we want to take our trusty companions along with us on adventures. We enjoy playing games with our dogs like fetch, Frisbee toss, and car rides. Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat. So, while we humans take advantage of sweating to cool down, dogs pant to cool themselves through their respiratory system. What can we do to help our canine buddies survive the “dog days” summer?

Overheating in dogs is not something to take lightly. Heat exhaustion in dogs can lead to serious and potentially fatal conditions such as heat stroke and cardiac arrest. A dangerously overheated dog may collapse or experience convulsions, vomiting, or diarrhea. Symptoms include blue or bright red tongue or gums, excessive panting, and rapid pulse. Because overheating can be life-threatening if not treated immediately, identifying early signs of heat exhaustion will reduce the chances of heatstroke. Signs are as simple as the dog being unresponsive to commands and wandering away when called.

How can we help prevent heat exhaustion?

The best treatment for heatstroke is prevention.

• Provide plenty of fresh water and shade.

• Don’t leave a pet in a parked vehicle if the ambient temperature may reach or exceed 70 F.

• Don’t allow the dog to linger on hot asphalt.

• Limit exercise in hot weather.

Luckily, heatstroke is easily preventable. When exercising the dog during summer months, make sure to provide plenty of water and breaks in the shade to cool off. If the dog can’t cool down and there are noticeable signs of advanced heatstroke, take the dog to a veterinarian immediately.

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