Hot dogs loose their cool in summer

Dogs are the pets most commonly at risk from heat exhaustion because of the combination of high air temperatures and high humidity in the Queensland summer makes the dog’s natural cooling system less efficient. Dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans – they release heat primarily by panting and sweating through the pads and nose. If a dog cannot effectively expel heat, the internal body temperature begins to rise.

As your dog pants to cool down, their fluids should evaporate into the surrounding air. But if the humidity is high, such as when the animal is in a confined space like a car, trailer or kennel in the sun, evaporation cannot happen quickly enough and soon your dog loses their cool. Once the temperature of your dog’s body rises to over 40o damage to the cellular system and organs may be irreversible.

Heat stroke, heat exhaustion or hyperthermia (all the same thing) happen quickly. Clinical signs include:

Excessive panting
Drooling saliva
A staring expression
Constant movement especially if in confined space
Progressive muscular weakness and lack of co-ordination

Don’t expect your dog to lie down and take it easy when it’s too hot – many dogs reach the point of death while still standing or sitting.
If you think your dog has heat stroke – move your dog out of the heat, place cool towels all over the body, offer cool water to the mouth and visit the vet IMMEDIATELY. DON’T use ice or very cold water.

Prevention of heat exhaustion and possible serious permanent injury or death to your dog is easy:

- Avoid leaving a dog in the car or any small enclosed space, even if not in direct sunlight. Even if the outside air temperature is in the low 20’s, the air inside a car parked even in partial sun can reach 40o within 20 minutes.
- Provide a shady resting place and plenty of cool water at home.
- Don’t exercise your dog in the hottest part of the day – WAIT for cool early mornings or late evenings.
- Ventilation is essential if the dog is to be confined in a restricted space. Ensure it is well away from direct sunlight and has plenty of breeze and/or a fan and plenty of cold water.
- Blocks of ice in the water can cool the water down during the day.