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The normal internal temperature for a dog will be approximately 102 degrees.  If a dog’s internal temperature raises only a few degrees, there can be significant damage.  Heat Exhaustion, which can be very damaging at only 106 degrees, occurs when the core abdominal temperate gets too hot and there is failure or damage to the internal organs.  Heat Exhaustion is generally ruled out if the internal temperature rises and there is an infection present.

A dog’s temperature can be raised in several ways.  The hot days of summer will absolutely play a part in this but it doesn’t have to be that hot if they are left in an area that is effective at retaining heat.  It is common knowledge that a dog should not be left in a car on a warm day with the windows rolled up.  Sadly, some of the apartments with poor ventilation that the dogs live in are not that different from a car in the parking lot.

Exercise on a hot day can be difficult and dangerous for a dog unless the dog has had time to adjust to the heat.  Most reported cases of heat related issues happen early in the summer.  Dogs will adjust to the heat as they have opportunity to but unless they have had time to adjust, they will be at risk.

Other risks will be muzzling your dog or preventing it from drinking water.  Not having a cooling system active for your dog will also cause significant risk.  If the daytime heat, after the heat index, is above 106 degrees, there is significant risk and the dog’s outside time should be limited until the ambient temperature has cooled off.

There are three very significant risk factors that put specific dogs at risk.  The first and most dangerous are dogs who have Brachycephalic Syndrome, or the snort nosed dogs.  They cannot expel heat from their bodies effectively and will struggle with heat in general.  Overweight dogs are also more prone to this issue and should be exercised only in the cooler times.  Finally, dogs with a heavy undercoat, especially those with dark fur, are more prone to this situation and should be monitored closely.

If you see symptoms of your dog suffering from Heat Exhaustion, there are several steps that should be observed.  First, allow the dogs to stop exercising or leave the overheated area.  Immediately, get the dog in a cool tub of water or shower.  This should not be cold but cool instead.  Submersion in cold water will constrict the blood vessels and further prevent cooling.  Water should be given for drinking as well.  Finally, consult a veterinarian as there could be Dehydration issues, mineral losses, or kidney damage.  Symptoms can include:

  • Heavy Panting
  • Hyperventilation
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Bright Red Tongue
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Viscous Drool
  • Dry Mouth and Nose
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Whining
  • Confusion
  • Inattention
  • Fear
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Collapse
  • Incapable of Rising
  • Seizure
  • Shock
  • Organ Failure
  • Coma
  • Death