5 Factors That Put a Dog at Risk for Heatstroke
Summer can be an incredibly fun season for dogs and their active owners. There are walks to go on, boat rides to take and beaches to explore!
But for all the fantastic opportunities summertime offers, there are also a number of seasonal dangers. A serious one that all dog owners should keep in mind is heatstroke. While all dogs are at risk of heatstroke, there are a few factors that can make your dog more vulnerable. From the genetic predisposition of certain breeds to the dangers some outdoor dogs face, here are five heatstroke risk factors to be aware of — and avoid.
Congenital Defects or Underlying Respiratory Problems
Brachycephalic airway syndrome isn't the only potential issue. Large and medium breeds, like Labs and Pit Bulls, can experience laryngeal paralysis, and collapsing trachea commonly affects small dogs like Pomeranians and Yorkies. With both conditions, the dogs' airways swell as they pant, which causes them to pant harder. That in turn increases the swelling and can create a dangerous situation quite quickly.
Not Being Acclimated to Hot Weather
So what's a responsible dog owner to do? First of all, start with a visit to your vet, so you're sure your dog is healthy enough for increased exercise. Second, exercise restraint when it comes to, well, exercise. Start off slowly and build up your dog's fitness very gradually. Third, make sure you know the signs of heat stress (like excessive panting and drooling, a fast pulse and gums that have changed in color from pink to bright red) and be prepared to help your dog cool down before it becomes an emergency. If your dog vomits or has bloody diarrhea, you should call your veterinarian immediately.
Being Kept Outdoors Without Access to Shade and Water
Being Left In the Car
Should you see an animal locked inside a hot car, there are ways to safely rescue it. The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA recommend that you write down the car's make, model and license plate; attempt to locate the owner; and call animal control or your local police department for help.
Obesity and Thick Fur
That layer of fat under the skin serves as insulation and can prevent some of that heat from getting to the skin to be released. Thick fur can create the same problem, so furry dog breeds, like Newfoundlands and Great Pyrenees are at similar risk.
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