How pet owners can keep their dog cool in summer heat and recognize heat stroke

SALT LAKE CITY - It’s hot and hazy, and veterinarians say humans aren't the only ones feeling it.

Dr. Jordan Scherk, an emergency and critical care specialist at BluePearl Veterinary said he’s seen an influx of dogs this summer come in for heat-related injuries.

“I’ve probably treated 10 or 12 this summer,” Dr. Scherk said.

Cleatus, the English Bull Dog, who works as a blood donor at BluePearl Veterinary, suffered from heat stroke after their building was evacuated for a gas leak drill.

“Cleatus was pretty anxious with all the people around,” Dr. Scherk said. “He started to pant more and more and his body rose to a dangerous temperature level of about 106 degrees.”

Normal temperatures for dogs, according to Dr. Scherk, is around 100 to 102 degrees.

BluePearl Veterinary Technician Manager Heather Riggs is Cleatus’s “mom,” and said the signs he was hurting weren’t subtle.

“Panting, very excessive panting,” Rigss said, describing how heat stroke in dogs can be recognized.  “A very wide open mouth and then their tongue and their mucous membranes start to turn a bright red color and it’s very, very dry."

Riggs responded to Cleatus’s condition just as she said everyone else should, by cooling him down.

“Cool water on their chest, neck, head and on their ears, to start trying to bring the temperature down,” Riggs said. “You don’t want to get them cool too quickly, because the temperature sensor in their brain stops working really well, it can actually get too cold, too quickly.”

Cleatus is recovering well, but Dr. Scherk said there are things you can do to prevent this from happening to your pets.

“Walk and play with your pets as early as possible,” Dr. Scherk said. “If it’s too hot for you and the back of your hand on the pavement, you probably shouldn’t have your pets walking on that pavement.”