As the summer temperatures and humidity rise, dogs become less efficient at cooling themselves. Dogs are cooled by evaporation. The higher the humidity the less evaporation takes place. Heat exhaustion is a life threatening condition. Canines sweat through sweat glands in the pads of their feet and on the nose. Panting helps dogs to cool themselves, but dogs involved in significant activity and dark colored dogs are at higher risk.
One of the first signs of heat exhaustion to look for is excessive heavy panting as well as huffing and puffing. In more advanced cases your dog’s gums may appear a muddy pink color. Your dog may appear to be disoriented, weaving when it walks. It may lie down or even collapse unable to get up.
If your dog shows any signs of heat exhaustion the first thing to do is to get him out of the heat, preferably into air conditioning. Give your dog water, but not iced. If possible spray your dog down with cool water and put him in front of a fan. Place ice bags against his head and neck. A body temperature of 108 to 110 degrees can lead to organ damage. It is very important to cool your dog down before transporting him to the veterinarian. Transporting before this could result in more serious conditions or even death.
Because of the way dogs cool themselves they are more susceptible to heat exhaustion than we are. Using common sense can help prevent heat exhaustion. Provide plenty of fresh drinking water, limit running, long periods of time in the sun, and leaving dogs in vehicles. Exercise your dogs in the early morning or after sunset. If you are feeling hot, you know your dog is.