HOW TO TREAT HEAT INJURIES
Because of the way dogs cool themselves, they are more susceptible to heat exhaustion than humans. The early signs of heat exhaustion can include heavy panting, bright red tongue, lots of watery salivation, or listlessness. Later signs may include rapid, shallow breathing, sticky and pale gums, disorientation, weakness, stumbling, and even loss of consciousness. This is a life-threatening emergency. Don’t let your dog get to this point!
To treat heat exhaustion:
Move the dog out of the sun and into shade or into an air-conditioned building.
Offer the dog cool water to drink. Remember that water dishes left outside heat up, and your dog will probably not drink warm or hot water.
Rinse the dog off with COOL (not COLD) water, either in the bath tub or with a garden hose.
Place the dog in front of a fan while it is still damp.
Place ice bags around the dog’s head and neck.
Take your dog’s temperature using a rectal thermometer. “Normal” is about 100 to 102 degrees. If a dog’s temperature is 104 or above, you have an emergency situation.
Either way, call your vet and be prepared to transport the dog if the vet recommends it.
Maintain the dog in an environment that is cool and offers good, cool air circulation.
SUNSCREEN FOR DOGS? SOME NEED IT!
Sunscreen for dogs? You bet! The risks of overexposure to sun can indeed be a problem for many dogs, according to top veterinary dermatologist, Dr. Peter J. Ihrke of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine.
“Unfortunately, dogs can develop a wide variety of sun-associated problems beyond sunburn just as humans can,” says Ihrke. “Repetitive sun exposure can lead to chronic skin changed and sun-induced skin cancer just as it can in people.”
Ihrke says the animals most at risk for sun-caused skin disease and cancer are those with short, white coats, light-colored skin and sparse tummy fur. Breeds that fit these characteristics include Dalmatians, Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Whippets, Italian Greyhounds and Greyhounds. The more sun, the greater the risk, he says, noting that dogs who like to sunbathe and are permitted to do so are at the greatest risk.
Skin cancer can hit dogs as young as 4 years old, he says, which is why prevention is extremely important. Decreasing exposure is the only way to protect an animal from sun-related problems.
“Preventing sunbathing, roofs over outdoor runs, and solar protective T-shirts or dog shirts can be very helpful,” says Ihrke. “We also recommend waterproof pediatric or children’s sunscreens. Sunscreens designed for children are less likely to be irritating and commonly do not have scents added.”
Brand names mentioned by Ihrke as being safe for use on pets include Johnson & Johnson’s Water Babies, Bullfrog waterproof and EltaBlock waterproof. The benefit of waterproof products, says Ihrke, is that they are also dog-saliva-proof.
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