Last month’s news about how a dog died while being left unattended in a vehicle serves as a reminder to all of us of how your pet can be a victim of heatstroke and complacency. Especially in Singapore where the whether is constantly hot throughout the year, it’s easy for accidents like these to happen to anybody.
We humans have a more efficient way of dispersing body heat through perspiration and what we are able to tolerate might not be necessary so for our fur friends. Just imagine the horror of wearing a fur coat and just dispersing heat from your tongue and paws.
Admittedly, it’s terribly hard to know if poochy is overheating. Take my dogs for instance, the moment I take out their leash to take them out for a walk and their pupils dilate, heart palpitate and pant like they’re back from the walk. But as most good owners would agree, common sense and being meticulous would definitely prevent tragedy from happening.
Make sure that:
- You don’t leave any pets in an unattended vehicle in the afternoon even with the windows wind down and under a shade.
- They have access to cool, clean water at all times.
- Your pets have access to shade.
- They are not muzzled for extended period of time when outdoor. If need be, loosen the muzzle.
- Refrain from strenuous activities during the morning and afternoon.
- You give them sufficient rest in between activities. It’s easy to forget that while everybody’s having fun.
- Older pets or pets with health condition should be given exercise during cooler periods of the day.
What’s dangerous about getting a heatstroke is that it is difficult to assess an early stage heatstroke and when your pet starts showing signs of symptoms, the body is already in a critical stage. A dog’s normal body temperature is around 38-39 degrees Celsius. If their body temperature reaches 41 degrees Celsius and up, the overheating will cause irreversible damage to the organs.
Symptoms of heatstroke:
- Excessive panting and salivating
- Bright red gums and tongue. Gums will turn pale as shock sets in.
If you notice signs of heatstroke, treat your pet immediately. The precious minutes before it reaches the vet can make a difference between life and death.
- Move to a shady area.
- Spray your dog down with cool water. Do not use cold water as this will constrict blood vessels, slow down blood flow, reducing heat dissipation from the body and can even cause shock to the system from the sudden change in body temperature.
- Wet towels, shirts and place them in between their groin and neck. Constantly wipe their paws and ears with a cool, wet towel. These areas accumulate and dissipate heat the most.
- Allow the dog to drink cool water bit by bit. Do not force feed, do not allow your dog to gulp nor should ice cold water be fed.
- If the condition seems to be improving, dry them with a towel to prevent their temperature from falling further and seek veterinary assistance immediately. It’s easy for pets to suffer from shock even when your pet might seem fine.