I recently visited the vet hospital with my brother and our 2-year-old Rottweiler, Lara (steer your mind from the Yoruba intonation, think Lara Croft) who was sick (she’s fine now). While we were there, a Lhasa Apso dog was rushed into the emergency room. She had apparently been locked in a hot room with no ventilation and had suffered a heat stroke. I have heard about dogs suffering from heat stroke as a result of being exposed for prolonged hours to the sun, however, this was the first time I saw a dog suffer from the occurrence. I was lucky enough to get some tips on how the situation can be avoided.

With the harmattan season coming to an end in Lagos and other parts of the country, and the heat creeping in, I thought it would be helpful to share some info on the topic and shed light on some common-sense ways of preventing heat stroke.

Dogs generally do not cope well with heat because they don’t perspire; they cool off only through panting. According to PetMD, heat stroke is a form of non-fever hyperthermia that occurs when heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body cannot accommodate excessive external heat. Heat stroke occurs when your pet’s internal temperature becomes dangerously high, generally at about 106 degrees. Heat stroke is more likely to affect dog breeds with long-hair, and short snouts.

Prevention of Heat Stroke

Ways of prevention are pretty obvious and straight forward.

  • If you own a breed with a long coat, try to trim its fur to reduce the effect of the heat.
  • If your dog lives in an outdoor enclosure, ensure you create space for shade.
  • When you take a car ride with your pet, never leave it in the car unattended. There have been cases where a dog left in a hot car with the windows wound up ends up suffering a heat stroke attack.
  • Try to walk your dog in the morning or evenings when the sun is down.
  • When attending outdoor dog events or performing related activities, always have a bottle of water (preferably cold water) at hand.
  • When outdoors, do not muzzle your dog for long periods because it inhibits its ability to pant.

First Thing to Do in a Heat Stroke Attack

Remove your dog from the heat immediately, immerse him in cool water then massage his legs to improve blood circulation.