It’s a warm, beautiful day and you need to make a quick trip to the store. You may be tempted to take your dog along, reasoning you’ll just “run in”. Hundreds of pets die annually from this sort of reasoning! Heat stroke is a life-threatening issue and can come on rapidly. Be safe and opt to leave your furry companion comfortable at home.

Vehicles Get Hot Quickly

On a 70 degree day, the temperature inside your car can increase by 40 degrees in an hour. With warmer temperatures it can increase by 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes! Cracking your windows has little to no effect on mitigating temperatures.

Perhaps you don’t routinely take your dogs on errands but many of us travel during the summer months—camping, visiting relatives, etc.—and we take our pets with us. Just as you plan what to pack and the route you’re going to take, make sure to plan around the travel needs of your pets so that you won’t need to leave them in the car while you make a “quick stop” on your journey.

short-nosed breeds like bulldogs at increased risk of heat stroke

Brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds like this bulldog are at increased risk of heat stroke because they cannot ventilate as efficiently.

Every owner should be extra attuned to their pets during the hot summer months. Heat stroke is a very serious matter and a prompt response can often be the difference between life and death. Below are some of the warning signs and symptoms of heat stroke.

Possible Signs of Heat Stroke

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • GI upset
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, with or without blood
  • Weakness
  • Disorientation/Incoordination or stumbling
  • Dull mentation (thinking)
  • Sudden collapse
  • Seizures

If your dog exhibits any of these signs, immediate action is required. Bring them in the house or to a shady area. If you’re able, take a rectal temp and if it is above 102.2°F you will need to try to lower their body temperature. Offer, but don’t force, cool water to drink. Use lukewarm wet towels to wrap their body. It’s important to avoid using very cold water to lower their temperature as it can lead to blood pressure problems. If your pet continues to exhibit symptoms and their body temperature isn’t decreasing, take them to your veterinarian immediately.

Remember, just as you prepare yourself for your summer outings, travels, and activities, take time to anticipate the needs and possible emergencies you may experience when traveling with your dog. Your planning will enable both you and your pet to have a safe and enjoyable time.

Enjoy your summer!

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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.