The most common cause of heatstroke or hyperthermia is the confinement of a dog in a car with inadequate ventilation. In such circumstances the condition can occur with frightening rapidity. Since dogs do not have the means of controlling their body temperature by sweating in the same way as ourselves this is by no means the only cause of this condition with our dogs.
Their only means of regulating body heat is by panting and, to a limited extent, by sweating through glands situated mainly in their feet.
Cars in summertime can be mobile glass houses for dogs. In warm, sultry conditions a car can reach unacceptable high temperatures in a very short time if inadequately ventilated. The vehicle need not necessarily be in direct sunlight for the temperature in the vehicle to rise to a dangerous level if the ventialtion is inadequate.
The dog often does not show warning signs of discomfort. As the body temperature rises the animal usually become apprehensive, pants excessively and in a short time can become unconcious and die.
Rapid reduction of body temperature is a priority.
Use cold water on the head, underparts and feet. Wrap the dog in cold, wet towels. Apply ice to the mouth an danus. These are effective first aid methods of rapid temperature reduction.
If in the car, ensure all the windows are open for maximum ventilation. If possible keep the car moving to ensure a steady air flow.
Effective first aid often results in the dog returning to normal as quickly as the condition occurred. However it is always wise to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
If further transportation by car is unavoidable, ensure that air conditioning if available is used at a low temperatur and high fan setting otherwise ensure that ventilation is provided with all windows opened. This is particularly important until the dog has been examined by the vet.
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