You’re not the only one who needs protection from the upcoming summer heat

Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 8:22 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - It’s almost summer, and everyone wants to be outside with their dogs. But with the summer season comes the heat, and when our best friends are chasing frisbees, balls and running they don’t always know they’re overheating. If their core body temperatures rise faster than they can cool off, dogs may suffer from heat-related illness. National Heat Awareness Day is May 28, 2021, so Eukanuba™ experts want to educate dog owners on how to keep their dogs safe while exercising this summer.

Dr. Joe Spoo, a veterinarian with Eukanuba, joined Sunrise 7 to share important information about making sure our dogs are cared for this summer.

“You and I are very good at cooling down in the heat, and so we sweat, we can have air flowing across us, all that helps cool. Dogs, unfortunately, while they’re tremendous athletes, are very inefficient at cooling. They’re basically relying on air movement through panting to cool themselves down,” he said. “And so as we enter into this time of year when we have increased heat and humidity, we can get those dogs into trouble when we exercise them too much or in the wrong conditions and cause heat-related illness.”

He said heat-related illness comes in states. It starts with heat stress that can develop into heat exhaustion. From there, it can cause heat stroke, which can result in seizures, multiple organ failure and even death. That’s why recognizing the signs of heat-related illness is so important, to prevent a tragedy.

“Early in the heat stress stage, what you’re going to see is the dog trying to move a tremendous amount of air, so they’re really open-mouthed with a roaring type of pant,” Dr. Spoo explained. “The tongue is out and very broad, and they’ll start having a ropey saliva, because they’re usually not swallowing as much. That mouth is getting dry.”

He said once they get into the heat exhaustion stage, Dr. Spoo said they start to get a “help me” look in their eye. “That dog you started the day with is not the dog in front of you. From there, they’ll progress to where they’re no longer there, so it’s like nobody’s home, they’ll get stumbly, they’re unaware of where they’re at. And from there, [they] can unfortunately progress into that heat stroke ballpark.”

Dr. Spoo said dog owners should be aware of their surroundings when outside exercising their pets. Sometimes if the thermometer says 77 degrees, for example, the humidity can make it even worse to be out on the pavement or bike trail.

“That environment where the dog is at can be so much hotter than where you or I are. So avoidance would be my number one thing for keeping your dog cool,” he explained. ”If you get them overheated, then it’s getting air flow. So if you’re at the park, get them in the car with the air conditioning vents across them. If you’re at home, get them by the air conditioning. Wet them down to aid in that air movement to help get them cooled down.”

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