We humans aren’t the only ones who stress in the heat of summer; it is a serious risk to our pets too. Heat stress, a technical term, describes a severe elevation in body temperature due to an inability for the body’s natural cooling mechanisms to work.

Imagine being locked in a hot car or house, having no access to shade or water, or being asked to run for miles – and not be able to sweat. That’s what it is like for dogs. They can’t sweat, instead they pant! Most likely affected are: very active dogs (i.e. pups, Border Collies, Kelpies); those with weight issues (i.e. pregnant or obese); those with breathing disorders (i.e. Bulldogs or Pugs) or older dogs.

Noticable signs of heat stress are vomiting, with or without blood, lethargy, excessive panting, ataxia, collapse or seizures. (All of these are similar to snake bite symptoms!) You can administer first aid at home on your way here by helping cool them down – but SLOWLY!! This can be by wet towels on their skin or ice packs in their groin region. Cooling too quick will have a detrimental effect as their body temperature control mechanisms are currently deranged.

If not treated, heat stress can worsen causing circulatory shock which leads to organ shutdown. This may not show for a few days though. For most successful treatment, get to a veterinarian ASAP.

Prevention is simple if you follow these tips:

  • Allow plenty of access to water & shade. Or even an air conditioned area. Always have an extra water bowl.
  • NEVER lock them in a car or house alone.
  • Restrict activity. Tie/confine them in a shady area.
  • Freeze treats, whole or in ice, or strips of meat. These tasty cold treats will be a delight!
  • Freeze a water bowl half full & top up in the morning for the day.

When you’re in need of a cool down this summer, check on your best friend too & see if they need a refreshing moment.