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Since we live in a very warm climate in Arizona, it’s important for us Mesa dog sitters/owners to know the signs of heat stroke.  Heat stroke is a very serious condition that occurs rapidly and can cause collapse and death if not treated immediately.

Certain short nosed breeds are more susceptible to this condition and should be monitored even more carefully, as are larger dogs, older dogs and puppies. Some of these short nosed breeds are the Pekinese, the Pug and the Bulldog. You should also monitor dogs with longer, thicker hair and black coated dogs.

Dogs do not sweat through their skin glands like we do; they cool themselves by panting.  The potential for this condition to strike occurs when the air temperature is warmer than the dog’s body temperature (typically between 101 and 102 degrees) and panting is not sufficient enough for the dog to cool themselves. This is why it is so important to keep your dog indoors in the summer months here, as of course most of our days are above 102.

Some signs of a dog in heat stroke are:

  • The dog may whine while panting, bark, or seem restless and agitated; if that’s the case get them inside cooler temperatures right away
  • Weakness and uncoordination
  • Heavy breathing and excessive panting, tongue may hang out of mouth more than usual
  • Frothy, foamy mouth, but not always
  • Bright red gums and tongue and/or dry gums – if shock sets in gums will appear grey
  • Excessive, thick salivation – a drooling dog doesn’t necessarily mean the dog is hydrated
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • The dog may vomit and/or have bloody diarrhea
  • Lying down and either unwilling or unable to get up
  • Loss of consciousness/collapse
  • Coma

Tomorrow we will cover ways to avoid heat stroke as well as how to treat it if it occurs. Meanwhile, keep your paws cool!

UPDATE 7/16/13:    Just today one of our clients lost their beloved dog to heat stroke. The dog was being exercised in the morning hours, too. Our heat is deadly – PLEASE do NOT underestimate the seriousness of the heat and weather here in Arizona!

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