Detecting Dog Dehydration
By Brian S.
Besides being encased in fur, a dog’s body temperature cannot be lowered by a cool breeze evaporating sweat, because a dog simply doesn’t sweat. Therefore dogs build up heat faster than we do. A dog is designed to conserve, not release body heat. So it’s at a distinct disadvantage when undertaking any type of physical exertion in a hot climate. Panting which is the canine’s method for cooling down just isn’t efficient when it comes to releasing excess body heat. What all this means is that if your beloved pooch overexerts itself under Pattaya’s tropical sun, it could become seriously dehydrated. If left untreated, dehydration can rapidly develop into heat exhaustion or heatstroke, both of which can be potentially fatal.
Hot season or not, never leave a dog inside a parked car. Even with the windows rolled down a car parked in the shade can reach temperatures of 150 F or 66 C. Never leave your dog outdoors without a source of shade and it must have plenty of clean fresh drinking water. Don’t over-exercise your dog during the hottest part of the day. Dogs vulnerable to dehydration and heatstroke are the very young and very old, the overweight, the long-haired, and those of dark colour. Flat-faced bulldogs and pugs are also predisposed to heat related maladies because they don’t breathe as efficiently as other breeds.
During the hot season, cutting a dog’s long hair short is an excellent way to beat the heat. Only exercise or walk your dog early in the morning or in the evening when its cooler, and always bring along a bowl and bottle of water to quench its thirst. Treat your dog to a ‘cool collar’, which is just a tube of fabric large enough to fit ice cubes into. Be sure to use a durable (not waterproof) material like denim so the cold water from the ice can seep through the collar and cool down the dog’s neck and chest. Given the materials, fabric, buckle and instructions, any one of Pattaya’s sidewalk seamstresses can fabricate a cool collar for you in moments for just a few baht.
Be aware that heatstroke can occur on both overcast and hot days. A dog’s reaction to severe dehydration or heatstroke will begin with extreme restlessness. As their body temperature increases, they will pant heavily, have difficulty breathing, and become weak and lethargic. They may whimper or bark as their discomfort increases. Eventually they will become listless and lie down, at which point a coma will soon follow. Death is almost always imminent unless the animal receives immediate medical attention.
If your dog’s behaviour mirrors any the above, carefully check for the following symptoms: excessively warm skin; rapid or loud panting; thick saliva; excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth; a bright red tongue and pale gums; difficulty breathing; an elevated heart rate; vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, seizures, and difficulty rising after lying down. If you suspect your dog is dehydrated or suffering heatstroke, you must react quickly.
Heatstroke can escalate into an emergency. Dogs are intuitive animals; therefore it’s important you work methodically and remain calm. If you panic the dog will sense this and may also panic.
If your dog is overheated, take it to a cool location. A room with air conditioning is preferable, but if you can’t manage that get the animal in front of a fan. Fan the dog while spreading its fur with your fingers so the cool air can reach the skin underneath. Begin cooling the dog down using water. Ideally, place the dog in a tub of cool water, but never use ice or ice water because this will cause the pores of the skin to close. If you don’t have access to a tub, hose the dog down using a very gentle stream of water or pour cool water over the dog’s head and body or drape it with wet towels.
Eventually the dog should start to cool naturally. Provide the dog with cool water to drink and keep it in a cool area until fully recovered.
Contacting a Veterinary Clinic
If you are uncertain of your dog’s condition or do not have access to shade or a fan or water or if your dog is not responding to the cooling process, take the animal to a vet. Because heatstroke can cause unseen internal damage, even if your dog’s temperature returns to normal, your pet should still have a thorough check-up as soon as possible following the incident.