Nebraska Airedale Terrier Association


The Dog Days of August:

It's 98 degrees!!! Or IS IT??? Is it, perhaps, 110 degrees, or maybe even 120 degrees...if you factor in the heat/humidity/dew point??? We know that you shouldn't leave a dog in an unventilated vehicle at 85+ degrees for more than five minutes without the fear of heatstroke or, at the very least, heat-related stress!!

But how long can you leave a dog outside when the heat index is over 90 degrees??? We've all heard that if we provide a dog shade and water, they should be fine--no matter what the thermometer reads!! Right??? A number of dogs have died, recently, in this area, under these same conditions! WHY????

Actual temperature does not factor in "humidity" levels which contribute to and define the "heat index" (i.e., the temperature may be 92 degrees but the "heat index" may be 102 degrees or 120 degrees) nor do they account for "breezes" or "winds", the existence or lack thereof can affect or ameliorate the actual "heat index"!!!

Humans have the ability to perspire--this is a compensatory ability which enables the body to equalize and stabilize internal vs. external stimuli/i.e., temperatures! DOGS DO NOT HAVE THIS ABILITY!!!!! Dogs can "pant"; dogs can sweat only through the pads of their feet, but, DOGS DO NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO PERSPIRE to regulate body temperatures!!! Therefore, they do not possess the compensatory ability to deal with extremes of heat and humidity that other species, including humans do!!!

What did dogs do in the wild? How did they survive??? Perhaps they immersed themselves in streams, dug holes in fallow earth or cool, damp sand; or, perhaps, they simply sought more favorable climes! We have domesticated them and, therefore, deprived them of many of their natural habitats: dogs in the "wild" had greater ability to adapt to the vagrancies of weather and climate than dogs in captivity relegated to backyards and fenced enclosures without such amenities--rivers, streams, forests, sand pits--have!!!!

Points to consider:

Temperature is relative!



Heat stress and heat stroke are life-threatening! It is important to get your pet to a vet as soon as possible! But taking your pet's body temperature down quickly is imperative and must be among your first considerations, especially if you have a long drive to the vet!!! As soon as you suspect heat stress/stroke initiate cooling strategies--immerse in a tub of cool water, start hosing the animal down, apply ice packs, etc.!!!! If you have someone else to help, have them get a vehicle for transportation to the vet as soon as possible and load the pet! If you're on your own, do all you can do to "cool" the dog before loading--throw towels or blankets over your pet and "hose" them down as well! You will, after all, not be able to intervene in your pet's behalf if you're trying to "drive"! Heat related stress or heat stroke may cause organ malfunction,and other life-threatening problems and must be treated by a veterinarian ASAP!!!

There is controversy re: taking a dog's body temperature down too quickly or too slowly! If you take it down too QUICKLY, some argue, you risk cardiac arrest (you are at greater risk for this if this is an older dog or a dog with known cardiovascular/respiratory problems)--too slowly, argue others, you put the dog's life in jeopardy by not acting quickly enough!

It is important to get the dogs' body temp down ASAP--I prefer to go s-l-o-w-l-y!!!!! Especially with an older dog!!!! You can "hose a dog down" but remember that the first "spray" from a hose in the heat of summer will be "hot"--wait until it cools; THEN start misting the dog--I prefer cooler and cooler temps!!!! (My opinion!!!!)

Remove the dog from "heat sources" (sun, heat, humidity, etc.) as quickly as possible!

As soon as the dog shows signs of "recovery" (not panting, normal heart rhythms, alert, etc.), if responsive, start administering fluids (i.e., pedialyte to restore electrolyte imbalances via syringe--Refer to Hot Tips!) If you do not have pedialyte or an equivalent, start "forcing" fluids--fill your syringe with distilled or tap water, lift the folds of the skin above the molars (back teeth) , and "inject" fluids above the tongue into the mouth between the molars--S-L-O-W-L-Y! (You can add sugar or honey to this solution)! Hold the dog's head UP so that the dog is ingesting the necessary fluids! Continue to administer fluids as long as necessary to stabilize the dog then...GET THE DOG TO A VET ASAP!!!!!!

If you cannot stabilize the dog by these measures, get the dog to a vet ASAP! SEEK PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE ASAP even if the dog is showing signs of "recovery"!!!

Continue to monitor the dog's temperature (with a thermometer), fluid intake, and respiration until the dog is stabilized!

(PLEASE NOTE: Any animal that has suffered from heat-related stress will be more prone to it in the future; PLEASE MONITOR YOUR ANIMAL ACCORDINGLY!!!!)

What To Have on Hand!!!

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