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Summer is finally here! This means brighter days, and SO MUCH MORE time to play with your furry friends outdoors.

But, with summer comes higher temperatures and the risk of your animal getting heatstroke. So, in order to ensure their paws stay cool and their hearts remain warm, I encourage you to follow this advice. 

 

The difference between overheating and heatstroke

I get asked all the time about heatstroke and overheating, and what signs to look out for. I must point out that heatstroke and overheating are related, but the severity of the conditions differ. 

Overheating is milder, and it happens when your animal’s body temperature rises, but is not at a dangerous level. Your animal’s response to the excessive heat is manageable. In dogs, it can happen when they aren’t able to cool themselves down properly through panting. Yes, it’s uncomfortable for your doggo, but it’s not critical. However, make sure to look after your animal when they are overheating. If you ignore it, then it can escalate to heatstroke!

A few simple things you can do to keep them cool is 

  • Put out a damp towel or cooling mat in a shady spot or indoors they can lie on.
  • Have plenty of room temperature drinking water available with NO ICE in it. 
  • Keep them inside between the hours of 12pm to 3pm. 
  • Get up early in the morning to take them for a walk, or later in the evening. 
  • Never leave them in the car when the weather is hot. 
  • Limit how much time they spend outside, to short periods of time.

When your animal experiences heatstroke, this is a different story because it can be life threatening. It happens when they try to cool themselves down but fail, and their body reaches an alarmingly high temperature. 

Your pet might not be able to cool themselves down properly if they are exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time, if they are exercising in these high temperatures or if they don’t have access to water or shade. 

We want to absolutely avoid this because heatstroke can lead to organ failure and in some cases, death.

 

The signs of heatstroke to watch out for 

The symptoms of heatstroke are usually very noticeable. Your animal might experience:

  • Rapid exaggerated panting and breathing
  • Excess and thick saliva
  • Shivering or tremors
  • Bruising of skin and mucous membranes
  • Loss of balance
  • Shock
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea with or without blood
  • Dark red tongue
  • Collapse
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Seizure
  • Coma
  • Death

It’s important to look out for these signs, and remember that no dog is the same so their reactions will be different. Get to know your four-legged friend, and find out how you can address their needs properly. Take into consideration their age, breed, fitness level and overall health. 

Certain breeds are more prone to heatstroke, such as brachycephalic breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, Shih Tzus, Boston Terriers, Japanese Chins, Mastiffs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

As are seniors, obese dogs, those with heart issues and thick heavy coats so make sure they are groomed properly.

Having said that, regardless of breed or age, all animals should be cared for and protected in hot weather. 

 

Managing Heat Stroke 

If you feel it is too late and your fluff is already at risk from heatstroke, you need to act fast! 

Bring them to a cooler area in the shade and into air conditioning or near a breezy fan. Wet their head and legs – don’t put them in cold water as this can cause organ failure due to shock – and ensure they have access to clean drinking water. 

If their body temperature goes above 41°C / 106°F take them to the vet as soon as possible as this is life threatening. You can monitor their temperature with a rectal thermometer – I suggest you carry one with you just in case.

 

Holistic treatments for your pet

A trick I love to do, which is based on Chinese Medicine principles, is to add a few pinches of Himalayan or sea salt to one of their bowls of water, making sure they have access to plain water also. 

Then they can choose to drink the slightly salted water if they want to rehydrate and cool themselves down. It can also be fun to watch them select between the two, as it gives you reassurance they are managing their own body temperature.

Also if you have a dog who is at a higher risk of heatstroke, buy the homoeopathic remedy Belladonna in 30C potency. Put one pillule in another separate bowl of water, and they will be able to self medicate with it to cool themselves down all the more. Refresh it daily.

Of course you can give it to any dog if they are suffering from heatstroke. If this happens when you are out and about, just pop one pill into their mouth or they may even lick it up off your hand. Aconite 30C is another remedy that you can alternate with the Belladonna till they regain stability or you reach the vets if it’s a severe heatstroke. 

Having these remedies on your person can prove to be life saving for your dog during the warmer weather.

If you would like to care for your fluffs more holistically at home so they live their best & longest lives by your side I invite you to check out my membership programme.  

Every month we discuss an animal topic in depth, where I offer you a live masterclass full of expert holistic tips & practical advice. This is then followed by a group meditation to help you deepen your connection & understanding of your pet.

Take care, 

Lisa