Watch out for heat stroke in summer sun

With the summer months fast approaching we’re all looking forward to enjoying the warmer weather.

A story that sticks in my memory is the report from a few years ago of the two police dogs that died in the handler’s van when he left them on the hottest day of the year. What makes it all the more saddening is that it could have been so easily avoided. There are so many similar stories that I felt the need to raise awareness of this issue.

Heat stroke or hyperthermia is an elevation in body temperature.

Dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans do; they primarily lose heat by panting. They can sweat, but only through their foot pads or nose. If a dog cannot expel heat efficiently then their internal temperature will rise and very quickly the body’s cells and organs can become irreversibly damaged.

Prevention is always better than treatment. Never leave a dog in the car, regardless of whether the windows are open or not, Heat quickly builds up inside and it can act like an oven.

Conservatories, greenhouses, or even something as simple as a lack of shade in a garden, can also be problematic. These buildings can get overlooked, but can soon become too hot.

Avoiding vigorous exercise on warm days, opting for areas of shade and making sure there is fresh, cool water available can be simple, but crucial.

Certain breeds will be more prone to overheating and other factors, such as overweight dogs, dogs with longer, thicker coats, or black dogs, will succumb more.

Signs to look out for include vigorous panting, gums will become dark red and dry or tacky, and your dog may be lying down and unwilling or unable to get up. Other signs are dizziness and disorientation, or collapse or loss of consciousness.

If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from heat stroke, remove the source of the heat and seek urgent medical attention. It is important that any dog is cooled down in a specific and controlled manner. Time can make all the difference so it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

CAROLYN TATE, Veterinary Nurse

l Carolyn runs puppy parties at the Whorral Bank surgery in Morpeth.

All puppies that complete their vaccinations with us are eligible to attend the twice monthly evening event. At these parties we discuss worming, feeding, socialisation and training, etc.