Like all animals, dogs have an optimum body temperature that they have to maintain in order to ensure the proper function of their vital organs. If their body temperature exceeds a certain level, then they are liable to suffer from extremely unpleasant and dangerous symptoms that can quickly result in incapacitation and even death. Overheating can result from seemingly innocuous circumstances that can quickly turn dangerous for the dog if they are not adequately prepared or if they are already suffering from another illness. Needless to say, it is of the utmost importance that dog owners try to prevent their pet from suffering from overheating at all costs. Fortunately, by following some fairly basic guidelines and advice, people can prevent their pets from incurring heat injuries in all but the most extreme of situations, ensuring that they live long and healthy lives.
Causes And Prevention Of Overheating
Dehydration – When a dog begins to expend more water than they are able to ingest over a sizeable period, they become at risk of developing dehydration. This basically means that the animal’s body has no more fluids with which to regulate its various vital processes. Due to the effect that this can have on the nervous system and major organs, it can quickly become serious if not addressed. Additionally, the lack of water in the dog’s body will start to cause its temperature to rise, putting them at risk of incurring heat injuries as well. Making sure to give the dog regular opportunities to take on more water (especially in hot weather) will allow owners to know that their pet is remaining properly hydrated. However, providing them with dried foods (especially when outdoors and exercising) can quickly result in large amounts of water being absorbed, so these products should probably be avoided if water is scarce. Dehydration can also be caused by vomiting and diarrhea because of the large amount of fluid that these conditions end up expelling from the body. Thus, owners should be sure to check that their dog is getting good quality food that is in a decent condition (i.e. not spoiled) so as to prevent the bacterial infections that are responsible for bouts of food poisoning.
Fever – An elevated temperature can also occur due to an illness, usually a bacterial or viral infection that results in the dog experiencing muscle spasms (twitching) and accompanying hot flushes. Similar symptoms can often be observed in very ill humans, where they will begin to heat up and sweat while complaining of feeling cold. The same is true of dogs, though as they lack the capacity to sweat and thereby cool themselves down, their temperatures can rise much faster and higher. To stop this from happening, dog owners must tackle the underlying cause of fevers – bacterial and viral infections. This can be done by increasing the dog’s standard of hygiene via regular baths and grooming. This will ensure that the dog is unable to retain large amounts of dirt for any significant period of time, cutting down on the amount of microbes that it is in contact with on a day to day basis. This new hygiene regimen also goes for the animal’s daily living space, with its bedding and floor needing frequent washing. It goes without saying that transmission of disease is also a major factor in contracting a fever, so taking care to keep the dog away from potentially ill animals (such as those in a vet’s office) will play a major role in keeping them in a good condition.
Heat Stroke – One of the more disturbing and widely-publicized causes of death for dogs during summertime is being locked inside a car that becomes too hot. This is an example of the condition known as heat stroke, whereby an animal will overheat and collapse in a comparatively short span of time. However, contrary to popular expectations, this affliction can also strike dogs who are outside roaming freely, as the direct heat of the sun can prove deadly when the dog’s relatively lacking ability to cool itself is taken into account. Additionally, animals suffering from heatstroke may begin to suffer from symptoms such as vomiting and disorientation, making them both lose large amounts of fluid and become unable to locate a source of replacement water. To prevent this from happening, individuals need to be considerate of the ability of their particular breed of dog to cope with hot weather and provide as much water and opportunity for rest as is required. This will allow the dog to both replenish lost fluids and cool off. Sticking to shaded areas during longer walks can be especially useful, as the animal will therefore not be exposed to the full glare of the sun and will find it easier to dissipate excess heat. Animals that are overweight can be especially vulnerable to heatstroke, making it imperative for people to ensure their pets grow up to be physically fit and not carry too much extra fat. This can be done through fairly inexpensive alterations to the dog’s exercise routine and diet.
Effects Of Prevention
While taking measures to prevent overheating can help the dog in the short-term, it also pays long-term benefits. Proper hydration means healthier kidneys and a healthier bladder. Specifically, a good level of fluid intake prevents the buildup of minerals and other solids within these organs, preventing the formation of kidney and bladder stones and negating the need for potentially expensive treatment. It also enables the easy and regular passing of stools, lessening the chances of the dog deciding to defecate in the house as an emergency measure. Additionally, taking care to prevent the dog from getting too hot on longer walks can stop instances of dehydration and heatstroke, but it can also stop these same problems from manifesting in the owner, who can often be almost as vulnerable to these problems as their pet.
Overheating is an extremely dangerous condition for many animals that is sadly often overlooked by owners. The same goes for the importance of proper hydration, with many dogs not receiving the proper amount of water they need in order to get through the day, commonly suffering from feelings of lethargy and anxiety as a result. Taking preventative action by making sure that the dog is in good physical shape and receives all the water it needs can avert a potentially tragic illness from striking, but can also enable the animal to lead a much happier and healthier life in general.