How to keep your dog healthy, safe and cool during the hot summer months


RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Summer is here and as much as we love to be outdoors and have fun on these warm days, it’s not always so fun for our furry little friends because they can suffer from hyperthermia or heat stroke, or extreme injuries and burns to their paws.

Hyperthermia is an elevation in body temperature that is above the generally accepted normal range. Although normal values for dogs vary slightly, it usually is accepted that body temperatures above 103° F (39° C) are abnormal.

Heat stroke, on the other hand, is a form of non-fever hyperthermia that occurs when heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body cannot accommodate excessive external heat. Typically associated with temperature of of 106° F (41° C) or higher without signs of inflammation, a heat stroke can lead to multiple organ dysfunction.

Hyperthermia can be categorized as either fever or non-fever hyperthermias; heat stroke is a common form of the latter.

Symptoms of both types include: (i) panting, (ii) dehydration, (iii) excessive drooling (ptyalism), (iv) increased body temperature – above 103° F (39° C), (v) reddened gums and moist tissues of the body, (vi) production of only small amounts of urine or no urine, (vii) sudden (acute) kidney failure, (viii) rapid heart rate, (ix) irregular heart beats, (x) shock, (xii) stoppage of the heart and breathing (cardiopulmonary arrest), (xiii) fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress (tachypnea), (xiv) blood-clotting disorder(s), (xv) vomiting blood (hematemesis), (xvi) passage of blood in the bowel movement or stool, (xvi) black, tarry stools, (xvii) small, pinpoint areas of bleeding, (xviii) generalized (systemic) inflammatory response syndrome, (xix) disease characterized by the breakdown of red-muscle tissue, (xx) death of liver cells, (xxi) changes in mental status, (xxii) seizures, (xxiii) muscle tremors, (xxiv) wobbly, incoordinated or drunken gait or movement (ataxia), (xxv) unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened.

One of the major ways for your dog to get hyperthermia or heat stroke is leaving your dog in the car on a hot day. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association hundreds of pets die every year from heat exhaustion because they’re left in parked cars. Your car can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness and even death – even on days that don’t seem that hot to you.

The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30º F…and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside your vehicle. And it’s important to remember that they can suffer from heat stroke in just 15 minutes.

Leaving your dog in the car is also against the law. Nevada Revised Statute Section 574.195 says that it’s illegal to “…allow a cat or dog to remain unattended in a parked or standing motor vehicle during a period of extreme heat or cold or in any other manner that endangers the health or safety of the cat or dog.” If law enforcement does end up getting involved, and you are convicted, you will be found guilty of a misdemeanor and can face six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Another danger dogs face during the hot summer months is hot asphalt. When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.