The sun is at its peak.  It’s the time of the year that we spend more hours outdoors.  But high temperature can put humans and dogs at risk. To minimize heat related health issues in our canine companions, here are the top five factors to look out for.

  1. Inbred defects or primary respiratory problems. According to Dr. Debbie Mandell, veterinary staff and associate professor of the University of Pennsylvania’s Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, most common and top of the risk list for dogs is the upper–airway health problems.  Cute and adorable as they are, flat–faced dogs like Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers, are most likely to experience brachycephalic respiratory syndrome also known as congenital obstructive upper airway disease. Because they have abnormally narrowed nostrils, the amount of air that can flow is restricted.  Another respiratory condition is the Laryngeal Paralysis where the nerves and muscles that control the laryngeal cartilages lose function. This is a disorder that affects medium to large breed dogs like Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Saint Bernards. In both condition, dogs tend to pant more to release excess heat and the panting will eventually cause the airway to swell.
  2. Too much exposure to the sun.  Dogs have no sense of when enough is enough.  When being active, specifically on a hot day, they will continue playing fetch until they are done.  As responsible owners, we are the ones to decide when it is time to call it quits and be cautious of the signs and symptoms  that indicate heat stress before it become an emergency.  Some of the indicators that we need to look out for are excessive panting and uncontrollable drooling, dehydration, reddened gums and rapid heart rate.
  3. Having no access to shelter or shade or not having water when outdoors.  Although discouraged by experts, some owners still have outdoor pets.  And it is equally dangerous for both indoor and outdoor dogs to go beyond themselves in very hot weather much more if they do not have access to shades and drinking water.
  4. Leaving them in the car. One of the risks that is never worth taking is leaving your dog or any pet alone in the car specially on a hot day.  Dr. Mandell said, “It has been documented that the temperature inside a car can reach over 120 degrees in minutes”. Despite what other people might think, even cranking the windows open does not help.  In cases where you witness animals locked in a car, make sure to take note of the car’s license plate. Locate and contact the owner if possible and contact animal control and/or the community’s local police force for appropriate help.
  5. Obesity. Obesity, although is a nutritional rather than a congenital disease, will also play part in putting your dogs at risk.  Excessive body fats affect multiple body areas such as the bones and joints and organs responsible for breathing. Even though it is common in all dog ages, middle–aged dogs are presumably to suffer in obesity.

Just to add up, extremely thick furs may also cause dogs to overheat.  So be mindful of furry breeds such as Pomeranians, Samoyed and Bearded Collie.  If your dog appears to be exhibiting any sign of heatstroke, take immediate action and reach out to your vet or the nearest emergency pet clinic.

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