Protect your pets from heatstroke - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Protect your pets from heatstroke

Dogs love running around and playing outdoors. But a hot, sunny day can turn deadly if your dog overheats.

Heat stroke is common in dogs and recognizing the signs of this medical condition is vital to saving his life.

"Imagine exercising on a hot day while wearing a fur coat. It wouldn't be long before you took that coat off or collapsed," says Luciano Aguilar. "A dog can't take his fur coat off, so it's important that you take steps to prevent overheating. Keeping your dog well hydrated and out of the sun is the easiest way to avoid heat stroke." 

But if you're past the point of prevention, you need to watch out for three telltale signs.

The first sign is excessive panting. Dogs don't reduce their internal temperature by sweating, like people do. Instead, they lower their body heat by panting. But if the panting becomes too rapid, there's a problem.

The second sign of heat stroke is disorientation. Your dog may appear confused as his elevated body temperature begins to affect his neurological functions.

The third warning sign is vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog exhibits any or all of these symptoms, you need to take immediate action to quickly reduce his body temperature.

Get your dog out of the sun. Bring him indoors or into a shaded area. Then, turn him over and pour cool water, not cold water, directly on his stomach and groin area. These underside parts are covered with the least amount of fur, so you're wetting his actual body. If you poured the water on top of him, you'd mainly be getting his coat wet.

If your dog doesn't show improvement within 10 minutes, take him to a veterinarian immediately.

"Remember, prevention is the key to avoiding heat stroke," adds Luciano. "If you keep your dog cool and well hydrated, chances are you'll never have to apply this kind of life-saving first aid."

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