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Dear Daisy Dog

We took Rajah, our husky, for a long walk the other day. When we returned, he collapsed.

We rushed him to the veterinarian, who diagnosed heat stroke and started i.v. fluids. He’s been in the hospital for two days, and he is finally starting to show some improvement.

It wasn’t overly hot the day of the walk. How could he have gotten heat stroke?

Daisy Responds

Heat and humidity that’s merely uncomfortable for some of you humans is potentially life-threatening for us dogs.

We aren’t very good at regulating body temperature, in part because we don’t sweat much.

Thermoregulation is especially difficult for youngsters, seniors, overweight dogs and dogs with certain diseases. Dogs bred for cold climates (e.g., huskies) and flat-faced breeds (e.g., pugs) are especially prone to heat stroke.

Signs of heat stroke include lethargy, rapid breathing and heart rate, unsteady gait, glazed eyes, and sometimes diarrhea or vomiting.

When heat stroke is suspected, cover the dog with towels drenched in cool water and get to the veterinarian immediately.

To prevent heat stroke:

  • Don’t exercise us dogs during the heat of the day, when we can also get sunburned and burn our pads on hot pavement. Provide consistent, moderate exercise, not occasional strenuous exercise.
  • Cool the home with air conditioners or fans, even when you’re at work and we’re home alone. Provide plenty of cool, fresh water.
  • Don’t leave us in the car alone. Even with the windows open, the temperature rises quickly and the car becomes an oven.

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