When we Speak Out on our pet blog, it also means listening to our animals when they may be trying to tell us when they’re uncomfortable, sick or diseased – and it’s really hard to tell sometimes. Even though they can’t communicate with words, especially when temperatures start to rise, we can still recognise some possible signs that they could be in danger from these types of changes in their environment.
We all know that dogs don’t sweat, but rather they pant, and cats release heat through their paws, which is an inconvenient and unfortunate truth. This is fairly unusual when you consider certain breeds of dogs, especially tiny terriers, will amass large amounts of hair in between their toes that causes them to become warmer in winter months, but also hotter in the summertime.
Heatstroke & Dehydration –
What’s the Difference?
When a dog is dehydrated, it means they don’t have enough fluid in their body. Since canines are 90% water, panting and drooling can reduce these fluids and a 10% drop can be serious. Heat exhaustion occurs when an animal can no longer maintain their normal body temperature through panting. Signs and symptoms of both heatstroke and dehydration can be very similar in most cases.
Some canines are at an increased risk from the dangers of too much heat and too little water. Smaller dogs have a bigger danger due to their higher body surface area-to-volume ratio. Dogs with certain medical conditions that cause them to have a loss of appetite, excessive production of urine, or already have vomiting or diarrhoea put them at an increased risk for heatstroke or dehydration. Make sure your dog always has access to plenty of clean, fresh drinking water at all times, regardless of the temperature.
So we know dogs are hot when they’re panting, but what are some other signs they’re actually in trouble or danger of being dehydrated or contracting heatstroke? When it comes to dehydration, there’s a simple trick that even veterinarians use to see if a dog (or cat) is dehydrated.
Gently grab a piece of their skin, just below their head and above their back, with your thumb and index finger. It should spring back against their body almost immediately. If it doesn’t, they probably need some fluids and if they don’t drink on their own, you should take them to see a veterinarian immediately. Here are some other signs and symptoms that will usually require medical attention in most cases:
- Excessive drooling or salivation
- Difficulty breathing
- Weakness, lethargy, appearing or acting listless
- A lack of appetite
- Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
- Tacky, dry gums
- Discoloured gums appearing lighter coloured, even white instead of pinkish-red
- A weak pulse or the opposite, highly elevated heart rate could occur
- Sunken eyes
In extreme cases, some of these symptoms could lead to collapse, coma and eventually death. When temperatures are on the rise, keep an extra eye on your pet for some of these signs and symptoms. If you’re even slightly concerned about their well-being and condition, it’s better to take them to the vet, just to be sure they’re not in any real danger.