With extreme heat blanketing Southwestern Idaho, there are two serious health issues for dogs: heat exhaustion and dehydration. Both are considered an emergency and require immediate veterinary treatment.
Dogs cannot tolerate prolonged high temperatures because they do not sweat like humans. A dog’s panting enables them to exchange their inner body air for cooler outside air – obviously not an efficient process when it is in triple digits. Heat exhaustion is very serious. Initial signs/symptoms include:
• Increased respiratory rate
• Increased heart rate
• Excess salivation
As heat exhaustion progresses (possibly into heat stroke), your dog’s body temperature increases and signs become even more serious, including the following:
• Gum color may become brick red, then purple or blue (cyanosis)
In many cases, heat exhaustion is preventable. Never leave your dog alone in your car. A partially opened car window will not prevent your dog from overheating, even in milder temperatures. With triple digits outside, the inside of a car can quickly become deadly. Idaho Humane Society Humane Officers can be alerted to dogs left in hot cars by calling 208.343.3166.
In addition, pets need plenty of shade and fresh water while outdoors. It is best to move pets indoors when possible to help them stay cool. Avoid prolonged or strenuous exercise for your pet during the heat of the day.
Watch your dog’s behavior. If you believe your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion, seek veterinary care immediately— even if your dog’s condition does not seem serious. Pets with heat exhaustion can deteriorate quickly.
When a dog loses body fluids faster than he can replace them, he will suffer from dehydration. A prominent sign of dehydration is the loss of skin elasticity. When the skin along the back is pulled up, it should quickly spring back into place. In a dehydrated animal, the skin stays up in a ridge.
Another sign of dehydration is dryness of the mouth. The gums, which should be wet and glistening, become dry and tacky. A dog who is visibly dehydrated should receive immediate veterinary attention, including intravenous fluids, to replace fluids and prevent further loss.
Owners who notice that their dog is restless, uneasy, having breathing problems or lethargic, should seek veterinary care immediately.
As temperatures are expected to remain in the triple digits for the next several days, pet owners should take extra precautions to keep their animals safe. WestVet has Emergency & Critical Care Veterinary staff at the hospital 24 hours a day if you pet experiences unexpected illness or injury.