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Chocolate Havanese

Heat Stroke

Everyone enjoys the sunny warm days of summer, people and dogs alike. While you are having fun and planning activities with your Havanese, there are a few safety precautions to remember.

  • Heatstroke can be a deadly condition, but one which is largely preventable with a few common sense guidelines.
  • Dogs left in cars lead to one of the most common and most preventable causes of heatstroke.
  • A dog confined outside in a run or other area without access to shade and water can also overheat.
  • Heat stroke can happen even indoors when a dog is confined in a crate that sits in the sun by a window. Keep crates away from windows or keep the shades drawn. Crate fans and cool pads can help your pet cool off.
  • Paw pads can suffer trauma from contact with hot pavement or other surfaces.
  • Be careful of excessive exercise on hot/humid days. On these days, it may be best to exercise in the cooler times of day of early morning or late evening. Always bring water on your walks and outings, both for you and your dog.
  • Overweight dogs, elderly dogs and young puppies are more prone to overheating.
  • A Havanese with a dark coat will become overheated more quickly than a lighter one.
  • Always have fresh water available, both at home and away
  • Dogs do not sweat through their skin as we humans do - they release excess heat mainly by panting and also to some extent by sweating through the foot pads and nose. If a dog cannot effectively dispel excess heat, the internal body temperature begins to rise which can lead to heat prostration and heat stroke.

    What is Heat Stroke?

    Heat stroke is an abnormally elevated body temperature accompanied by physical symptoms. It is a medical emergency that can be fatal if not promptly and properly treated.

    All living beings have a temperature limit beyond which they cannot tolerate without adverse reactions and damage to their body systems. As the damage increases and/or temperature rises, eventually systems stop functioning and body cells begin to deteriorate culminating in a complete shutdown and death. A dog's normal body temperature is approximately 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C) . Dogs can tolerate up to a body temperature of about 107 degrees F (41.7 degrees C). The longer the body temperature remains above 107 degrees, and the higher the temperature, the less chance there is for recovery.

    "Just a minute"

    Owners generally have good intentions. In most cases, the dog is left in the car to run an brief errand ... "just a minute" ... but unfortunately one minute turns into 10-15-20 minutes, long enough for a Havanese to experience symptoms of overheating such as uncontrolled panting and salivating or even collapse from heat stroke. Leaving windows cracked open is no sufficient to prevent heat stroke.

    In direct sunlight, it only takes a few minutes for the air inside a car to heat up 40 degrees or more above the outside air temperature, creating a hot, stuffy, unsafe environment for your Havanese. Interior temperatures can rapidly reach 120-130 degrees F even on a mild day. During very warm or hot weather, the inside of a vehicle may reach deadly temperatures within minutes. The higher the humidity, the faster it will heat up inside; the darker the car, the faster it will heat up inside. As the temperature increases, a dog's natural body cooling defences are no longer able to diffuse the heat and core body temperature begins to rise.

    If you don't believe how fast a car heats up, try it for yourself sometime. Park your car in the bright sunshine, turn off the engine, roll the windows down just a crack, and just sit. Take an outdoor thermometer with you. Keep an eye on your watch and the thermometer. In less than 10 minutes, you may find yourself sweating profusely, extremely uncomfortable, and more than ready to stop the experiment. You are able to leave the car whenever you want to but remember that under the same conditions, your pet does not have the same option and is stuck to patiently wait for your return as he overheats. First the dog suffers from heat exhaustion, panting and salivating uncontrollably. If the temperature continues to rise, this will progress to heat stroke where body functions start to deteriorate and shut down. Time, temperature and humidity are important factors in how fast this occurs.

    The best precaution is to never leave your pet in a vehicle on warm sunny days. Sometimes the wisest decision is to leave your dog at home. If you see a pet in distress in a parking lot, please notify store personnel or security. It may save a pet's life.

    Signs and symptoms of heat stroke

    rapid intense panting excessive salivation anxious expression weakness and staggering lethargy poor response to voice elevated body temperature of 104 degrees F or higher rapid heartbeat shallow breathing vomiting pale, dry gums dehydration physical collapse unconsciousness

    Treatment for Heat Stroke

    If your dog shows any signs of heat stroke, you must act quickly to bring the body temperature down.

  • get your dog out of the direct sun and into a shady spot or air conditioned area
  • apply cool towels to the belly/groin area or place the dog in a tub of cool water
  • dribble cool water over the mouth and gums
  • encourage sips of cool water or offer pediatric electrolytes to restore lost fluids
  • check body temperature regularly and continue cool down processes until the body temperature has cooled down below 103 degrees F
  • never pour ice water over the dog or dunk him into an ice bath as the temperature change is too big of a shock to an overheated system.
  • if cool down procedures do not show improvement within a few minutes, call the veterinarian immediately
  • if the dog is collapsed, unresponsive or unconscious, call the veterinarian immediately. Heat stroke is an emergency
  • if you have any concerns or are unsure what to do, contact your veterinarian immediately
  • Summer can be a fun time for you and your Havanese. A few common sense precautions will help keep your pet safe so you can all enjoy the dog days of summer. Play safe and enjoy your summer!

    May 2012