It was not even mid-March when we learnt about an eight-month-old Rottweiler dying of a heat stroke. The entire dog community in Kharghar, where I live, was heart-broken.
The unusually hot days and frequent heat waves are as dangerous for dogs as they are for humans. Just like us, they suffer from heat stroke, which according to the Medical Journal of India is the inability to sweat and initiate evaporative heat loss, leading to increase in core body temperature, which can cause lethargy, diarrhoea, vomiting and in extreme cases, death.
For dogs, medical help is not always immediately available. If your dog falls ill on a Sunday or at night, it would be an uphill task to get him the care it requires, as most veterinarians do not work those hours.
Hence, it’s all the more important for pet parents to practice preventive care, especially in scorching summers.
What causes a heat stroke?
The hot weather is, of course, a major factor, says Doctor Jiyaul Hoque, senior veterinarian with Mars Petcare. If a dog is kept in a car or a small room or exposed to direct sun for a long period of time, he could get a heat stroke.
Puppies, and overweight, obese, pregnant or small dogs are more prone to the condition. Dogs with a short nozzle such as boxers and pugs can be affected easily as well. Foreign breeds, used to living in a colder area and suddenly brought to a hot country, could also get a heat stroke.
Symptoms of a heat stroke
But how do we know if our dog is struggling because of the rising temperature or is getting a heat stroke? “A dog would pant continuously and/or gasp for breath,” adds Hoque. He would be lethargic, wouldn’t want to go for walks or play. There could also be some vomiting and diarrhoea. In extreme cases, they would be disoriented and not balance themselves.
How to prevent heat stroke
Thankfully, it’s not very hard to prevent a heat stroke in dogs. Some easy, simple methods can save you and your furry baby a lot of trouble. Ensure that your dog sleeps, stays in a cool, shaded area. Pour room-temperature water on your dog’s body to cool him down. Use a wet towel to wipe his body, but don’t place that wipe towel on him. The wetness could cause fungal infection. Place an ice pack in between his legs. If the case is severe. If your dog starts vomiting, please rush him to the doctor immediately.
We give our Dogo Argentino some amount of curd with both his meals in the summers. He also gets butter milk in the afternoons and we often treat him to coconut water, which is a favourite. Keeping your dogs hydrated is very important in the summers and can avoid several heat-related issues.
We also feed him cucumber and use refrigerated wet wipes to clean his paws after he comes back from his walks and give him water while on his walks, but only after making him sit for five to ten minutes. Giving them water immediately after the walks can choke them.
Riddhi Doshi is a Mumbai-based independent journalist, Kathak student, and first-time pet parent