Summer heat can be fatal for dogs

Posted July 12, 2009 5:47 p.m. EDT
Updated July 12, 2009 11:16 p.m. EDT

— Dog owners need to take special precautions during hot, humid weather. Dogs overheat before people do and can suffer a heat stroke, which can be fatal.

“My other dog had a heat stroke actually and it was terrifying,” dog owner Dominique Allen said. “I guess he overheated. He just like fell over and completely went unconscious."

Veterinarians across the Triangle say with higher then normal temperatures, they have seen more cases of dogs overheating.

“We've had several deaths already of heat stroke,” said Jeff Nunez, a veterinarian with Triangle Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Durham.

“Animals aren't able to get rid of heat as well as people are. Because of that something that a person might be able to handle may not  necessarily be something a pet can handle.”

Even with aggressive treatment, veterinarians lose about half of the dogs they treat for heat stroke, so prevention is important.

If your dog is very active, limit exercise and play to cooler parts of the day. Make sure there is plenty of water available and look for excessive panting and sluggishness, signs of overheating.

“People aren't necessarily prepared for it and their animals get into trouble quickly,” Nunez said.

A heat stroke can happen within a matter of minutes, so it is important to keep your dog cool.

Veterinarians also warn to never leave your dog in a car alone, even with the windows slightly rolled down.

Also, snub-nosed breeds, such as bulldogs and pugs, are more susceptible to heat stroke.