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Canine Dehydration & Heatstroke

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Canine Dehydration and Heat Stroke
By:  Bob Franklin
 
Warmer weather is coming with lots of fun things to do with our Labs - trials, fun days, hunting, walks in the woods, or chasing a ball in the back yard.  Also, with summer we sometimes have very warm temperatures and the necessity to protect our 4-legged friends from possible dehydration or even heat stroke.  Here are some tips to help keep your labs hydrated and to help you recognize the danger signs that indicate dehydration or overheating may be occurring.  Also listed are several emergency things to do if heat stroke symptoms are discovered.   This article will avoid being overly technical, but includes several reference websites at the end - some which are highly technical.


Proper hydration is essential to maintain optimum body functions and temperature in all mammal species.   Virtually all metabolic reactions occur in the presence of water. A water shortage (dehydration) causes the blood to thicken, reduces oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and may cause body temperature to elevate to potentially lethal levels.  Canines cool themselves by dissipating heat through their skin (mostly their bellies), by evaporation from rapid panting, by a small amount of moisture excretion and evaporation (similar to human sweating) but from only their paws or simply by drinking water.  However, in extreme heat situations, these cooling efforts may be insufficient and dehydration and eventually heat stroke can occur.


Tips to Avoid Dehydration:


1.        Always have water available to encourage dogs to drink frequently.

2.        Wet a dog before starting intensive physical activity or before going out into a hot day - especially wet the stomach and groin areas and the dog's paws if water is in short supply.

3. Do not cover the dog with a wet towel or other so called "cooling blankets" as this inhibits evaporation and can create Sauna like conditions around the dog's body.

4. Use battery powered crate fans to move air around crated dogs and always keep crates out of direct sunlight.  Remember that shade travels during the day.
 
5. If the dog has not had a drink for a long time or shows signs of dehydration, start re-hydration slowly - allowing only a few laps of water every few minutes.  Over drinking too quickly can lead to vomiting and often causes even more fluid loss.

6. Do not allow the dog to drink excessive amounts of water after strenuous exercise as this can also lead to vomiting.  Wait a few minutes after heavy exertion and allow frequent but small drinks every few minutes.

7. If a dog shows some signs of dehydration, it may even be reluctant to drink.  Try meat/chicken broth mixed with water to encourage drinking.

8. If a dog has problem holding the water down, let it lick a popsicle or ice.

9. If a dog refuses to drink for any extended period of time and exhibits dehydration or heat stroke symptoms, seek veterinary assistance which may include among other things injection of fluids subcutaneously or intravenously.

Another subject of close calls. Recently when Ozzy to us to breed to Chloe (our Jack Russells). He was so excited and worked up when he left us that he made himself sick. Poor baby! We searched around for what to do. In the end a little pepto helped tremendously!

Here is a link that will help you recognize symptoms of vomiting, what you can do to avoid dehydration (give pedialite!) Home cures for upset tummy and so on. Check it out a lot of helpful information!
How Do I Treat Dog Vomiting?

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