Dog Friendly Tips: First Aid - Heatstroke
Of all pets, dogs are most subject to heatstroke. English Bulldogs and fat dogs are the most frequent victims. Dogs with heavy coats or fine fur suffer most, of course, and for their protection and comfort they should he clipped in the summer as a preventive measure.
The refreshing sensation of a breeze in hot weather is due to evaporation of moisture from our bodies and the consequent cooling of the surface of the body. The bodies of animals are cooled by the same process, which is aided by evaporation in the throat and mouth when the dog becomes overheated and pants.
Dogs have few sweat glands in the skin compared with those of humans and horses, but they do have some. When a dog is sufficiently cooled by bodily evaporation, it stops panting.
In itself, panting is a normal method of reducing body temperature. It may sometimes be an indication of thirst. A hot, panting dog is obviously evaporating an abnormal amount of moisture from its body and needs to replenish the loss.
In heatstroke, however, the panting is sharp and continuous. The dog seems to be "burning up," its tongue turns purple, and it finds it difficult to catch its breath. You know the dog has been exposed to great heat, possibly to excitement. What should you do?
The evaporation of water reduces body temperature. Lay the dog on a flat surface and pour cold water over it until it is thoroughly soaked. Set up an electric fan a few feet away, turn its blast directly on the dog, and keep on adding water as it evaporates. Take the dog's temperature occasionally. Usually the fever will drop in less than half an hour from about 108 degrees F to 101 degrees F.
Once it has come down to normal or nearly so, dry the dog with a towel and keep it out of the heat.
If an electric fan is not available, a cold-water enema is advisable. If this is impossible, immersion in cold water is a satisfactory method of reducing the temperature quickly. A great many dogs have been saved in this manner.
Dogs are frequently afflicted by heatstroke in cars. If this should happen, stop for water and lay your dog on the floor in front. As soon as you have the water, drive on with the ventilator open so that the draft will blow directly on your dog. Keep it wet, and before many miles its temperature will have dropped to normal.
Anyone who takes a dog on a long trip in very hot weather should be aware of the danger of a heatstroke and be careful to avoid it. Carry a pan and water for the dog. A dog that is losing an unusual amount of water by evaporation needs to replace it by drinking frequently. If your dog has enough water, it is much less likely to succumb to the heat.
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