Heat Exhaustion

June 17 | 12 Comments

Not Mali, But Just As CuteHey bo what’s up?

My mommy is really worried about me in the heat.

I tried to explain that i’m ok. I just need to stay cool but she doesn’t want to let me out in the bad heat to play. I’ll admit I do get very hot and pant a lot sometimes pretty heavy.

She did get me a pool but i’m a little nervous about it, i’m getting better but still a little nervous. I am a corgi and have the short legs so getting in and out of the pool is a bit of a challenge.

Any suggestions for my mom to keeping me cool?


Dear mali,

A corgi, eh? Let me ask you, why the need for two coats? Don’t you know there are some dogs out there without any? I know of a Mexican Hairless willing to give up a sack full of greenies just for a windbreaker. I know, I know. That doesn’t address your mother’s concern.

Just to clarify, a dog’s coat is its fur. Sure, it’s not luxurious like the fur on a mink, but then you don’t have poachers trying to capture you either. For those us with double coats, there is the soft fluffy undercoat and a coarser topcoat that protects us from the elements, even the heat. The misconception that shaving a dog will keep it cooler is just that, a misconception. Some say that the the two layers of fur are like insulation, keeping the hot air out in the summer and doing the same with the cold air in the winter. If you do get shaved, make sure it’s not closer than one inch from your body. You don’t want a sunburn, especially right behind your knee. Ouch!

So you pant a lot. So do I, but I’m old. You’re just letting your cooling system work out all the heat from your body. Just make sure to have your mother provide plenty of water, a cool place for you to lay down and to keep you from being outside during the hottest part of the day. Oh, and she has to ensure that a case of Frosty Paws is on hand at all times.

She also needs to be aware of the signs of heat stroke should things get out of control.

Signs of heat stroke include (but are not limited to): body temperatures of 104-110F degrees, excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, staggering, stupor, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, coma, death. Brachycephalic breeds (the short-nosed breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs), large heavy-coated breeds, and those dogs with heart or respiratory problems are more at risk for heat stroke.

If you suspect heat stroke in your pet, seek Veterinary attention immediately! Use cool water, not ice water, to cool your pet. (Very cold water will cause constriction of the blood vessels and impede cooling.) Do not aid cooling below 103 F degrees – some animals can actually get HYPOthermic, too cold. Offer ice cubes for the animal to lick on until you can reach your Veterinarian. Just because your animal is cooled and “appears” OK, do NOT assume everything is fine. Internal organs such as liver, kidneys, brain, etc., are definitely affected by the body temperature elevation, and blood tests and veterinary examination are needed to assess this. There is also a complex blood problem, called DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation) that can be a secondary complication to heat stroke that can be fatal.

Stay cool, be cool.

- bo


12 Responses to “Heat Exhaustion”

  1. BBird on July 19th, 2008 8:36 am

    Thanks for posting this!  Whether or not clipping off double coats makes dogs more comfortable in the summer is a matter of heated debate amongst professional pet groomers.  I am in the camp that believes that the dog’s coat provides insulation for the body, and that stripping it off can make the pet more vulnerable to heat stroke.  I have owned a number of dogs over the decades, including a Chow Chow, Bichons Frise, and a long-coated (wooly) Akita.  The one that was most miserable and overheated the most easily was my sleek coated Doberman.  She would become sizzling hot and had to be brought home from hikes on more than one occasion.  There was NO undercoat!

    Dogs as a species are more vulnerable heat stroke than others.  Humans are cooled by the evaporation of perspiration over their bodies.  Dogs don’t sweat, except on the pads of their feet and their noses.  They are cooled by the evaporation of air over the tongue and airways while panting.  It is a very inefficient system, that is often not up to the task.  The heating up can easily overtake the cooling down mechanism, especially in an environmment of high heat and high relative humidity.

    As a groomer, what I offer undercoated pet owners as an alternative to removing the whole coat, is to remove all the excess loose undercoat (we call it a "deshedding" service) and clip the tummy area or even the whole underside, to provide a means for the dog to lie on a cool surface and cool off.  For Golden Retrievers and others with a long coat, we can use a snap-on comb over a clipper blade to take off some length on the chest and rear end, further "summerizing" the dog’s coat.

    Thanks for caring,
    Barbara Bird, Certified Master Groomer

  2. mali on August 12th, 2008 8:27 am

    thanks for all that you said..i’ve grown to love the pool.i now just hop right in and lay down.feels really refreshing.i rolled over one time and got water in my eyes and i didn’t like that.and yes i LOVE my frosty paws, my favorite is peanut butter and i share them with my best friend jack, a 2yo jack russell.

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