Check on your dog often. On very warm days, watch your dog’s condition closely. While exercise will make dogs pant if the panting becomes “heaving” this is the earliest sign that he is getting too hot. When the panting has become loud and is becoming a “roar” he has already become too hot and the outcome can be fatal.
Stages of overheating:
- Excessive panting
- Your dog will begin to “heave” as he pants
- Your dog will begin to “roar” – best described as sounding like severe asthma
- He will begin to look tired and distressed
- His tongue will be very floppy and very red in colour
- Red-colored gums
- Red “flushed” skin near the ears, muzzle, underbelly
- Warm to the touch His body temperature will rise (normal temp approx 38.6)
- Thick ropey saliva in the mouth His airway will swell and his throat become full of white foam (caused through the excessive panting)
- Sweating or moisture from the paws (uncommon)
Cooling an Overheated Dog
Hose your dog down or place in a tub or sink with cool, not cold, water. Extreme temperature changes can injure your dog. Do not try to cool it too fast with frigid water. Make sure the water gets under the belly, between the legs, and under the tail.
Give the dog some cold treats, a few at a time. Too many at once (like immersing in the dog ice water) could cause your dog to go into shock. You can freeze low-sodium beef or chicken broth or other tasty liquids in an ice-cube tray to make a frozen treat your dog will enjoy.
On hot days, your dog may be happy just to receive an ordinary ice cube as well. Do not force water or ice down your dog’s throat. This might cause water to get into the lungs, causing more complications like pneumonia or death.
You can also keep wet towels against your dog’s body to keep him cool. You can also use ice packs or bags of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. Place them against your dog’s skin, inside the front and hind legs and along the neck. These are the areas where there major blood vessels are located. Cooling the blood as it passes under the ice packs will help cool the interior of the dog.
Clear the airway: Squirt some lemon juice (from one of those plastic lemon shaped bottles that you squirt on your pancakes) into the back of his throat, he will hate you for it, but the lemon juice will quickly break up the excess foam and clear the throat. Do not allow him to drink a lot of water as this can cause him to vomit.
Keep him calm: Once you have reduced his panic keep him in a quiet place and keep a close eye on him.
If you’re unsure or the above tips don’t seem to be working then you need to get to a vet as quickly as possible – put a cold damp towel under your dog for the journey and talk to him trying to keep him calm. You may want to call the vet first and they will be able to provide you with extra tips for the trip to them.