By Nan Talleno
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Heatstroke in dogs and cats is an emergency situation. It can cause coma and even death.
As dogs do not tolerate the heat as well as humans can and they are physically unable to sweat as we do, they depend on rapid breathing in the form of excessive panting to exchange warm air to cool air to cool down. Consequently, when the temperature is excessively hot or becomes too close to their own body temperature in the heat, panting is not efficient enough to cool them down.
Brachycephalic breeds or the dogs with push in muzzles such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs and Boston Terriers have more difficulty breathing in the heat. Also puppies, senior dogs and dogs with ailments are more prone to heatstroke as well. Heatstroke can cause swelling in the throat which adds to breathing difficulties.
Keep your dog hydrated by providing fresh water throughout the day. Keep your dog in cooler temperatures throughout the summer. Provide shade when outdoors on sunny days and keep them in the air-conditioning on excessively hot days and keep exercise to a minimum.
Never ever leave them in the car even for just a few minutes in the summer heat! If you see signs of heatstroke, such as vigorous panting, thick saliva, dark red gums, muscle tremors, verge of collapse or dizziness and disorientation, offer water but don’t force the dog, cool your dog with cool washrags around the head and pads of the paws and call your vet immediately.