Dogs are susceptible to overheating and heatstroke if they are exposed to too much sun, or left in areas where the temperature is too high, such as the car. Their fur coat and inability to sweat are just two of the reasons why they can overheat rather quickly, with tragic consequences that can even include death.
You need to be on the lookout for any signs that your dog is suffering. Excessive panting, which is one of the earlier indicators, can exacerbate dehydration because of the water that is lost during the process. Your dog may also experience difficulty breathing and other respiratory issues, which are particularly prevalent in brachycephalic breeds. Drooling, weakness, fatigue, bloody diarrhoea and vomit, plus an increase in heart and respiratory rate, are all other possible symptoms. A dog may also collapse, have seizures and eventually die.
Panting and dribbling are dogs’ attempts to cool themselves down, and the blood vessels dilate to enable more heat to escape. However, since the heart has to work harder to supply more blood to the vessels, the heart rate increases. The cells begin to break down and die when they exceed the temperature they need to work at effectively, and as blood pressure drops, the organs suffer in several ways. Clots form, blood pools in the organs, and cells in the kidneys, intestine, stomach and liver all experience thermal damage, resulting in vomiting and severe bloody diarrhoea. Also, blood clots form in the brain and it begins to swell. Once the body reaches approximately 42.8 degrees Celsius, the dog can slip into a coma, have seizures and irreversible brain damage. It doesn’t take long at all for them to die in this way.
Dogs can overheat outdoors, so you must not leave them unattended during the summer months. If they are spending a lot of time outside, ensure they have access to plenty of shade and leave the door open so they can go inside to escape the heat. It is also extremely important that you never leave your dog alone in a hot car. Being in the heat for just a couple of minutes puts them at great risk because the temperature can rise rapidly, even if it isn’t particularly warm inside or outside of the car. It is safer for your pet to remain at home, if there is a chance you will have to leave them alone.