Dog Days of Summer

Summer vacation is coming to its end for Rockbridge County, but the sweltering heat and humidity will stick around long into August and September. During these muggy days, it’s best to exercise your dogs early in the morning and late in the evening. Unlike people, dogs do not sweat (much) and primarily release heat through panting. Dogs do have some sweat glands in their ears and the bottoms of their paws, but these have limited capacity to help with cooling.

With exposure to warm temps, dogs can put themselves at risk for heat stroke. Confinement in a vehicle on a hot day is the #1 cause of heat stroke in dogs. On a 90’F day, the interior of a car can get up to 140’F. Exercise in high temperatures, and even just laying outside in the hot heat can also put dogs at risk for heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature rises above 105’F.

Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting, weakness, unsteadiness on their feet, collapse, vomiting, diarrhea, and even seizures. Overweight dogs, senior dogs, dogs with smushed faces (pugs, boston terriers, bulldogs), and dogs with underlying respiratory issues are more susceptible to heat stroke.

If you suspect that your dog has heat stroke, follow these first aid tips:

1) Remove your dog from the warm environment

2) Place in a cool room & direct a fan at your pet

3) If possible, take and record a rectal temperature

4) Begin cooling by placing cool, wet towels on the back of the neck and in the armpits and groin area. You can also wet eat flaps and paws with cool water

5) Offer cool water but do not force your pet to drink

6) Transport your pet the closest veterinary hospital immediately

Heat stroke can permanently damage internal organs, trigger bleeding disorders, and unfortunately even kill some dogs. Delaying evaluation and care for a dog with heat stroke can have disastrous consequences. Please keep your pets inside in the cool and keep them out of hot cars!

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