Heat Stroke in the Portuguese Water Dog
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be extremely dangerous and even fatal for your pet, that’s why it’s important to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms before your pet is in danger. It’s important to remember that in summer the average temperate in Australia is 29°C and is not uncommon to reach up to and beyond 40°C. Whereas the temperature in Portugal, the ancestral home of the Portuguese Water Dog, the average temperature in summer is only 24°C. For example, on December 30 2019, 30 days after the start of summer in Melbourne the temperature peaked at 42°C, however in Algarve, Portugal, 30 days after the start of summer, the temperature on June 30 2019 peaked at 23°C. This means that you need to take special care for you Portuguese Water Dog during summer to make sure they don’t overheat.
The first step to helping your Portuguese Water Dog from not overheating is to completely shave them during the start of Summer, as their coat is meant to protect them against the extremely cold ocean waters, it retains a lot of heat; so by removing their coat and shaving them you can help them stay cool. It’s important to remember that dogs can’t cool themselves like humans do and are unable to sweat, and have to reduce their temperature through panting and drinking water. That’s why it’s important to keep plenty of water available for your dog, so that they can cool themselves as they need to. Also provide a cool area for your dog to relax, during hot weather they might turn their nose up at their bed and opt to sleep on cool tiles or concrete instead. It’s best to kept them inside with you during extreme temperatures where they can enjoy any air conditioning or climate control; you can also place wet towels around their sleep area to keep them cool. You should also restrict physical exercise during hot weather, and limit their movements as much as possible. Whilst the Portuguese Water Dog is a very outgoing breed, their activity levels will drop during warm weather, however if you feel they still need some exercise, it’s best to do it in the early hours of the morning or late in the evening when the temperature has dropped to an acceptable level. Remember, if you wouldn’t like to be stuck out in the sun on a hot day or locked inside a car, your pet shouldn’t be either. Studies have shown that even on a relatively cool 22°C day, the temperature inside a car can rise to over 46°C and in even hotter weather some people have been able to bake cookies on their cars dash!
There are signs however that will tell you if your pet is overheating and it’s important you be able to recognise them. Signs of heatstroke include panting, drooling, restlessness, increased heart rate, very red or pale gums, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, lethargy, seizures, collapsing, muscle tremors, no urination, mental confusion, and coma. If you notice any of the above symptoms it’s important to act fast and without delay, as every minute is precious during an emergency situation. Follow the below steps to help save your dogs life.
1. Remove your dog from the hot environment immediately if possible, and get them somewhere cool
2. Apply cool water to their skin or fur and fan them to maximise heat loss
3. Place them on a wet towel
4. Don’t use ice- or ice-cold water as this may make it worse
5. Take your dog to the vet immediately
Heatstroke can be a fatal illness and should always be taken seriously, even if you think they might be recovering, always take them to the vet for examination as they may require further care. Vet’s can provide important treatment such as putting them on an intravenous drip, use cooling treatments, provide supplemental oxygen, conduct blood tests to check organ function, and provide medication.
Always be careful in hot weather to protect your pet, and remember it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and whilst you might be able to put up with or even enjoy a 40°C day, your Portuguese Water Dog can’t and needs to be in a cool environment.