It’s blazingly hot here in Colorado–literally. The forests are tinder dry and the heat is astonishing. It was during a summer like this that my last Dane, Tucker, suffered heat exhaustion.
I was out of town and had left Tucker in the care of two wonderful friends. They took him to their house and loved up on him, walked him, and played with him endlessly. The man of the couple was a runner, and he took Tucker with him on the nearby trails for companionship. One day it was very hot, but he thought Tucker was ok since the dog refused to drink from the river when they stopped for a rest. He was wrong: this is one of the signs of heat stroke, or heat exhaustion, in dogs. Other signs that the man didn’t recognize were a darkening of Tucker’s lips and tongue. Had he pressed his finger into the flesh of Tucker’s gums, the man would have seen that the place remained white rather than returning immediately to its normal pink color. Not until my dog collapsed on the trail did he realize that something was terribly wrong.
Fortunately, my friend immediately took the right steps. He was big enough to pull Tucker to the river and get the dog’s paws into the cool shallow water. He took off his shirt, wetted it in the river, and put it over Tucker’s belly. He gently massaged the dog’s ears and face with the wet shirt as well. After about half an hour, Tucker stood up and seemed full of energy again, but the guy wasn’t fooled; he very slowly walked Tucker back to the car, stopping frequently to rest in the shade and drink from the river. My happy dog spent the rest of the day snoozing in an air-conditioned room.
The incident had a happy ending, but many don’t. Watch for heat exhaustion in your dogs on these hot days of summer. The dog likely won’t stop running and playing with you until it drops to the ground, so it’s the human’s job to monitor them carefully.