Recently, we’ve had a couple of nice warm, sunny days here in Bolton and it got me pondering the perennial concerns relating to dogs and hot weather.
We all know that dogs die in hot cars thanks to excellent campaigns by the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, PETA and other animal organisations; what often gets overlooked is the fact that dogs die needlessly from heatstroke on warm days in parks, houses and gardens too.
In this article I’ll attempt to outline some of the facts surrounding dogs and overheating. Why and how it happens, the signs of overheating and what to do if your dog is overheating. Please take time to read and share this article, it may help to prevent the needless suffering of a loved pet.
A dogs core temperature
The average core temperature of a healthy dog is considered to be 38°C (101°F); however, the normal temperature of a healthy dog may range from 37°C to 39°C (99 °F to 102.5°F). A core temperature of over 39°C (103°F) is considered abnormal and requires immediate action. At 41°C (106°F) a dog will be suffering from heat stroke which can lead to multiple organ dysfunction and ultimately death.
Some dogs are more at risk to overheating than others, but at The Way of the Dog we consider this information superfluous to the need for education on overheating and heat stroke in dogs. We believe that all dog owners should be aware of the signs of overheating and heat stroke and be aware of the actions they need to take.
The causes and effects of overheating
There are many medical and physiological causes of overheating. As this article is related to the heat of a summer day we will focus only on these causes, but the symptoms and required actions are the same whatever the cause.
By exposing a dog to excessive environmental heat and humidity, excessive exercise or a combination of both heat and exercise your dogs core body temperature will begin to rise. His mind and body will respond as he attempts to regulate it.
First, he will attempt to remove himself from the heat source by finding shade and/or stopping exercising. His blood vessels will dilate bringing hot blood close to the surface allowing it to cool. He will begin to sweat from the pads of his paws and will pant to bring air into his upper respiratory system to evaporate water from his mouth, tongue, throat and lungs thus dissipating heat. He will need to drink a lot of water to compensate for this evaporation. You should assist him to achieve this reduction in temperature by stopping exercising immediately and by providing shade, a breeze and plenty of cool fresh water.
In most cases this is enough to allow the dog to slowly reduce his core body temperature to it’s normal level. You should continue to monitor him for further symptoms and respond accordingly.
When overheating leads to heat stroke
If your dog is not removed from the heat source, is continued to be exercised and/or is unable to access enough water his temperature will continue to rise above 39°C (103°F). As he struggles to overcome the heat this starts a series of reactions that are difficult to stop, even if the animal eventually gets his temperature down. Heat stroke causes his organs and body systems to be affected and shut down, possibly leading to the death of your pet. By 41°C (106°F), irreversible damage will have occurred.
Symptoms of heat stroke
- Body temperature above 39°C (103°F)
- Severe panting
- Sudden breathing distress
- Lying down and won’t get up (panting may have ceased)
- Excessive drooling
- Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
- Diarrhoea, sometimes bloody
- Vomiting, sometimes bloody
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heart beats
- Weak rapid pulse
- Changes in mental status
- Lack of awareness of surroundings
- Staggering, appears blind or drunken
- Muscle tremors
Treatment of heat stroke
Your objective here is to gradually reduce the dogs core body temperature; reducing it too quickly can cause further problems for your dog. Use cool, not cold water. Never use ice or iced water.
- Remove your dog from any external heat sources. Find a shaded, well ventilated area that is close to a water source.
- Provide the dog with plenty of cool, fresh drinking water. Do not force it to drink but you can moisten its tongue and mouth if it is lying down and panting.
- Spray cool water over the dogs coat and rub in to the skin. Continue spraying.
- Wrap the dog in cool wet towels, replacing them regularly.
- Immerse the dog in cool water.
- Use a fan to create a breeze.
- Call your vet and explain what is happening and that you will be coming in.
If possible, you should monitor the dogs temperature and stop cooling once it returns to 39°C (103°F). Whilst continuing to monitor its temperature, you should now get your dog to your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible. Take wet towels/spray bottles for the journey to keep him cool.
Your pet will have undergone severe stress to its body and organs. Your vet will will need to examine your dog to check that its temperature has been reduced and has stabilized, and that no long lasting damage has taken place. Complications, such as a blood-clotting disorder, kidney failure, or fluid build-up in the brain will need to be immediately and thoroughly treated.
At The Way of the Dog, we sincerely hope that this article has provided you with some essential advice on recognising and acting upon any signs of overheating in dogs. There are 4 key elements to remember:
- Be aware of putting your dog in a situation or environment where overheating is possible.
- Always monitor your dog for signs of overheating.
- Act to reduce the temperature of an overheating dog quickly and effectively.
- Always consult your vet if overheating has occurred and any of the symptoms of heat stroke have been displayed.
Enjoy the summer. Enjoy your dog.
Contribution by Matthew@HeppinessWebDesign
Sources and further reading:
Various articles at www.petmd.com
Temperature of a Healthy Dog (1999) – Jie Yao Huang (Janice)
Thermoregulation in Dogs and the Dangers of Hyperthermia for the Layperson (2011) – Jerilee A. Zezula, D.V.M.
Winter is a fabulous time to take your dog out for a walk; the fresh air will do you both good. But as the mercury drops in the thermometer, certain health hazards are created that every dog owner needs to be aware of.
At The Way of the Dog, we do not aim to sensationalise issues or scaremonger. Our articles are focused on our experiences in dog world and informing dog owners of how best to maintain the health and wellbeing of their canine friend. This article is intended to inform you of possible risks to your dog’s health.
A common winter related ailment in dogs is anti-freeze poisoning. Anti-freeze contains the toxin ethylene glycol, which is sweet and irresistible to dogs. They’ll lick up drips from leaking car coolant systems and brake systems or drink from contaminated puddles and other water sources.
It does not take a significant amount of ethylene glycol to cause fatal damage to a dog, as low as 2-3ml per pound of the dog’s weight.
Dog owners should:
- NEVER decant anti-freeze into another container.
- Store anti-freeze in a secure place with lids securely closed.
- Check cars for leaks and if found get them fixed.
- Check their driveways, parking spaces and garages for contamination.
- Use a funnel when topping up anti-freeze to reduce spills.
- Dispose of old/unused anti-freeze at an approved waste management facility.
Anti-freeze poisoning occurs in two phases. In the first phase, the animal typically appears lethargic, disoriented, uncoordinated and groggy. Symptoms usually appear 30 minutes to one hour after ingestion and can last for several hours.
The second phase, which can last up to three days, is characterized by symptoms such as vomiting, oral and gastric ulcers, kidney failure, coma and death.
For dogs exposed to antifreeze, the first few hours are critical. They should see a vet as soon as antifreeze ingestion is suspected.
Rock salt used to grit roads and paths in winter can be a danger to dogs if they lick it from their paws or fur. Even small amounts of pure salt can be dangerous, but the exact quantities of salt in rock salt are variable. Most cases are a result of a dog licking it’s paws and fur after walking through a salted area. The salt irritates the skin and paws and the dog is simply attempting to remove the irritation.
Dog owners should:
- Avoid using rock salt in areas their dogs walk in their own gardens.
- Avoid heavily salted areas in public.
- Rinse and dry their dog after winter walks (always rinse down the body and legs, pay attention to and in-between pads).
- Be aware of excessive paw licking after a winter walk.
Ingestion can result in a high blood sodium concentration which can cause thirst, vomiting and lethargy, and in severe cases there is a risk of convulsions and kidney damage.
Any dog suspected to have ingested rock salt must be seen by a vet.
Older dogs, small breed dogs, dogs with short fur and puppies can be especially sensitive to the cold weather. Dogs with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. In addition, all dogs can be susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia if conditions are cold enough and/or the length of exposure is long enough.
Dog owners should:
- Assess the type and age of dog and it’s susceptibility to the cold by consulting a vet.
- Purchase and use suitable protection based on this assessment.
- Monitor their dog regularly when exercising them in cold weather.
- NEVER leave your dog outside unsupervised without a heated shelter.
If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done.
If you suspect your dog has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your vet immediately.
Many dogs love a bit of snow. The mixture of curiosity and the sensations involved can lead many dogs to appear excited and exuberant. This maybe the case, but snow can also conceal a few doggy perils.
Whilst many of the risks posed by snow to a dog’s wellbeing are the result of the cold, there are a few extra points to consider.
Dog owners should:
- Cut the hair between a dogs pads. These hairs trap snow that can ball into a small ice-cube nestled between the pads. If your dog refuses to move or appears lame on a snowy day, check pads first.
- Remove snow and ice build up from a dog’s pads, legs and under carriage regularly to prevent it freezing to ice as this becomes painful.
- If this snow build up becomes ice, remove with a warm (not hot) damp cloth.
- Be aware of snow drifts, banks and cornices.
- Monitor their dog regularly when exercising them in the snow.
If you suspect your dog has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your vet immediately.
When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. Dogs will often attempt to walk on ice with no concept of the thickness of ice or there being water below. If they were to fall through the ice, some breeds of dog will succumb to the effects of the cold and then drown in a matter of seconds.
Dog owners should:
- Avoid areas with frozen bodies of water.
- If in the vicinity of a frozen body of water, keep your dog on a lead.
- If your dog ventures onto a frozen body of water, coax them back without causing panic.
- If your dog falls through ice, attempt to coax them back to land or use material nearby to provide an aid to exiting the water (buoyancy aids, a fallen branch, a fence panel, etc).
- If you retrieve your dog, get them dry and warm as soon as possible.
- NEVER enter the water to rescue your dog. More than 50 per cent of ice-related drownings involved an attempted rescue of another person or a dog (ROSPA).
If your dog has entered a frozen body of water and you suspect your dog has hypothermia or any other ailments, consult your vet immediately.
Enjoy the Winter Together
I know, it sounds like we’ve got our health and safety clipboard out and banned you and your dog having any fun together in the winter; this isn’t the case.
At The Way of the Dog we actively encourage the (at least) daily exercising of your dog, whatever the weather. Follow the points we’ve made and you will have minimised any risk to your dog’s health and wellbeing during one of the most spectacular times of the year.
Contribution by Heppiness
Image credits Scott Costello Flikr
It takes only a matter of minutes for you to lose your loving companion when left in the oven that could be your car! The sun is out and it is beautiful, but the sun beating down on a parked vehicle with a dog trapped inside is likely to end in a horrendous death. Depending upon the outside temperature it could take a matter of minutes before the inside of the vehicle is so hot that a dog will die an agonising and painful death.
“Even on a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly soar to as high as 120 degrees. Shock sets in as the dog’s internal temperature rises, and death can occur in just 15 minutes. It’s a gruesome, terrifying way to die—dogs struggle to escape the vehicle, often salivating heavily, losing control of their bladder and bowels, and clawing the car windows so violently that their paws become bloodied.” (PETA, 2013)
Now that the summer has arrived it is fitting that we remind ourselves of how dangerous the sun can be to our faithful companions. There is no sense in taking chances, a window left open sufficiently to allow some air circulation will not save your dog if the temperature soars, dogs can still die with the window open. Each summer people take risks believing that their dog will be safe only for the unthinkable to happen. The RSPCA report that they receive over 6000 calls a year concerning distressed dogs left in cars.
In 2011 the Dogs Today magazine launched a “Don’t Cook Your Dog” campaign urging dog owners to join. The Way of the Dog would like to take the opportunity to remind people of this campaign but more importantly to remind people of the need to protect their dogs from the effects of the sun. A dog can start to suffer in as little as two minutes when trapped in a hot car; this can lead to damaged organs, brain damage, and death.
Protect your dog from the sun and do not leave it in the car on any occasion, there is no safe time limit, the only safe place is outside the car.
Attached are some interesting articles that relate to dogs being left to die in cars. There is also a poster attached that you can download and publicise courtesy of Dog’s Today magazine.
In this blog we will focus on one-to-one training versus group training. Both possess strengths and weaknesses; however at The Way of the Dog we feel that they are both very different approaches to training. Many new dog owners enrol in group training from the outset because they are led to believe that this is the best and only way to socialise their dog, this is not the case and we will discuss socialisation in a separate blog.
We hold the view that one-to-one training supports a new dog owner to learn in private and at their own pace allowing them to become accustomed to unfamiliar training methods before moving into a group dynamic at the appropriate stage of training. It supports uninterrupted training free from distraction and the desire to interact with other dogs, therefore enhancing the possibility of progression for both dog and handler.
Whilst group training can be very beneficial in teaching your dog how to behave when in the presence of other dogs, at The Way of the Dog we do not consider that it is the best way to commence your training. Socialisation with other dogs is key to a dog’s successful development and whilst a group session can support this it is essential that this is managed carefully. Many dogs are distracted in the group environment which is obvious considering the fact that the owner is unlikely to have much control at this stage. When taking part in training of any kind for the first time many dog owners feel embarrassed, disorientated, hopeless, and uncoordinated. When in a group environment these feelings are often intensified and may lead to group training becoming non-productive and in some cases damaging.
If you want to get the best from a group class we recommend that you take part in a class that has a ratio of 6 dogs, 6 handlers, and a fully qualified dog training instructor. This approach supports a healthy and manageable student to instructor relationship and will allow you to get the very best from the session. You should expect during a 60 minute lesson; a proportion of individual attention, enough space to work in, and the ability to speak to and hear comments from the instructor. It should be a stress free environment where dogs are carefully managed and prevented from being confrontational with other dogs. In certain situations confrontation may be difficult to avoid, however it should be a rarity rather than the class norm. Anything other than that described above then you should really consider the value and the quality of the training that you are receiving.
So the choice is yours to make, should it be one-to-one training or should it be group training? What you should perhaps ask yourself before making a choice is; “What do I want to achieve from my training?” “Will my chosen route allow me to achieve this?”
What is Socialisation?
This is the study of Seb the Romanian Orphan. Seb and his owners are currently engaged in a training and behaviour project with The Way of the Dog Ltd. Raised on the streets of Romania Seb learnt to scavenge for food and fight for survival. A feral dog is an entirely different prospect than taking on a young puppy from a reputable breeder. Below is the story of how Seb found himself with a loving family from the UK.
In late 2011, a tour across mainland Europe with the band Midas Fall took us (Seb’s owners Liz and Rowan) to Romania for the first time. The Romanian leg of the tour began in Cluj Napoca in the west, onto Lasi in the north east and finally to the capital Bucharest in the south.
Throughout our time in Romania we encountered thousands of stray animals; dogs and cats lined the streets of cities, towns and rural villages. The animals waited outside shops, bars, restaurants and even public toilets to beg for food and affection from passers-by.
The pain and suffering of the countless malnourished and often injured stray animals was very difficult to absorb. The experience was so far removed from anything we had ever seen before that it became almost surreal.
After arriving back in the UK we decided that on our next trip to Romania we would adopt a dog – that dog was to be Seb. He came to us quite by accident; an unscheduled stop at a service station on the outskirts of Lasi was the moment it all began. Pottering around by the automatic doors was a tiny black puppy; his fur was matted, he was smelly, flea-ridden, had an eye injury and was clearly in need of a good meal. However, in spite of his desperate situation, Seb was extraordinarily affectionate, playful and trusting – we knew he was a keeper.
After scouting the area for other dogs, as he seemed very young to be alone, and checking with the service station attendant that he wasn’t someone’s mistreated pet, we decided to bring him home. That night we drove to a hotel Brasov where Seb was treated to a bath, a hot meal and a soft bed by a roaring fire.
The following day he was taken to a vet in Bucharest, where he was vaccinated, chipped and quarantined for three weeks before embarking on his journey to the UK, arranged with the help of Red Panda Romania.
Red Panda Romania is an animal charity based in Bucharest who work with various animal aid organisations across Europe. Since the Romanian government issued a mass-cull of stray dogs in September 2013, Red Panda and other animal charities have worked tirelessly to stop dogs like Seb being slaughtered on the street or being left to die in ‘kill shelters’. Of the dogs lucky enough to be saved the vast majority are adopted by people living in the UK. Many of the adopters already have pets and frequently publish success stories showcasing how well the strays settle into family life.
In our case, Seb settled in very well with our other dogs and was comfortable in his new surroundings within a few days.
However, his harsh start in life had impacted him more than we had anticipated and it was clear that we’d need help raising him to reach his full potential. A chance meeting with Shaun from The Way of the Dog led to us being taken on as clients and the next chapter of Seb’s story began.
In the next chapter of Seb’s story The Way of the Dog Ltd will explain how the relationship came together.