Like all animals, dogs have an optimum body temperature to maintain in order to ensure the proper function of their vital organs. If their body temperature exceeds a certain level, 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 a dog.
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.
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 their body has no more fluids with which to regulate vital processes. Due to the effect this can have on the nervous system and major organs, it can quickly become serious if not addressed. Additionally, the lack of water in a dog’s body will start to cause the body temperature to rise, putting them at risk of incurring heat injuries as well. Make sure to give your dog regular opportunities to drink water (especially in hot weather).
Fever – An elevated temperature can also occur due to an illness, usually a bacterial or viral infection that results in a 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 (although a minimal amount of sweat is released via the paws) and thereby cool themselves down, their temperatures can rise much faster and higher than in humans.
To stop this from happening, dog owners must tackle the underlying cause of fevers – bacterial and viral infections. If your pooch contracts an illness from the kennel or dog park, or gets a cut that becomes infectious, take them to the veterinary clinic so that medication can be prescribed and the infection cleared up.
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 themselves is taken into account. Additionally, animals suffering from heat stroke may begin to suffer from symptoms such as vomiting and disorientation, making them 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 your dog to both replenish lost fluids and cool off. Sticking to shaded areas during longer walks can be especially useful, as your pup will therefore not be exposed to the full glare of the sun and will find it easier to dissipate excess heat. Canines that are overweight can be especially vulnerable to heat stroke, making it imperative for people to ensure their pets grow up to be physically fit and not carry too much extra fat.
Effects Of Prevention
While taking measures to prevent overheating can help your 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. Additionally, taking care to prevent your furry companion from getting too hot on longer walks can stop instances of dehydration and heat stroke.
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 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 your dog is in good physical shape and receives all the water they need can avert a potentially tragic illness from striking.