Dog in carWhen the mercury rises, it is safest to leave your pet at home, rather than in the car.

A car parked in the sun can heat up the air inside astonishingly quickly. Even on a 25°C day the temperature inside a car can shoot up to 71°C in about 10 minutes. Consider those summer days when the temperatures reach nearly 30°C and you are talking about a car developing sauna-like qualities in minutes.

It is an interesting experience to try sitting in a car with the windows open a crack, parked in hot sunshine. It becomes unbearable in a very short time… now try it again, this time with a thick coat and wellies on. This is a lesson not forgotten in a hurry.

Beating the heat is extra tough for dogs because they can only cool themselves by panting and sweating through their footpads. This process is inefficient when there is only hot air to breathe. Even leaving windows down or providing bowls of water will not stop heat stroke from happening.

Heatstroke can come on quickly and result in brain damage. Symptoms to look out for include restlessness, heavy panting, glazed eyes, a dark-red tongue, vomiting and finally seizures.

If your dog is overheated the immediate first aid is to apply tepid (not too cold) water all over his body, gradually using cooler water. A cold towel may be used over the head, neck and chest area. Veterinary assistance should be sought.

Here are some useful tips for the summer, most of which are common sense:

  • Don’t exercise your dog when it is very hot. If they are kept outside, provide shade and a bowl of water that cannot be knocked over.
  • Hot pavements can burn dogs’ paws.
  • Old, overweight, snub nosed dogs (Pekes, Boxers etc), or dogs with heart or lung disease should be kept indoors in the cool during the hot parts of the day.
  • Some authorities advocate trimming heavy coated breeds of dog, but do not forget to leave a couple of cm for protection against sunburn.
  • Prevention is better than cure where heatstroke is concerned, we can enjoy summer and if we are sensible so can our pets.

    Diana James

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