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Lifestyle

Ask the Pet Expert: Overheated dog

My dog loves running in the yard, but I worry in the summer. What signs should I look for that he may be getting overheated, and what should I do if he exhibits them?

Early signs of heat stroke include panting, bright pink gums, strong pulses, vomiting, diarrhea or depression. Playing outside in the summer, even in the shade and with access to water, puts dogs at risk for developing heat stroke. Owners must regulate their pups' exposure to heat in the spring (before they have acclimated to the higher temperatures) and summer. Limit the duration of active playing and play at cooler times of the day, such as early morning and evening. When you are done, give your pet access to fresh water, a fan and a cool surface to lie on (such as a tile floor). 

If you suspect your dog has overheated, remove your pet from the heat and take a rectal temperature. Call your veterinarian if it is above 103.5 degrees or the pet is showing signs of heat stroke. To help cool your pet on the way to the emergency room, saturate his or her fur with room temperature, not cold, water and point a fan in your pet's direction. As heat stroke progresses, respiratory distress, small red spots or bruises may appear on the skin, gums may take on a pale color, bloody diarrhea or bloody vomit may develop, collapses, seizures and comas may develop, and the body temperature may drop below normal, often preceding death. 

Never leave your pet in a car, even with the windows open! Dogs and cats do not have sweat glands and can cool themselves only by panting and through the pads of their feet.  Also keep in mind that most breeds also have a fur coat (some very thick) and that breeds with short noses (bulldogs, for example) have a harder time cooling themselves.  

This week's expert is Dr. Tanya Tag, chief of staff at the PET+E.R.. Submit your questions to sun.unleashed@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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