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August 21, 2017

August is rolling here, and we’re entering the hottest part of the summer. During this time of the year, dogs face the highest amount of danger from exposure.

Humans can deal with heat much more effectively than dogs, since we can wear lighter clothing and, more importantly, perspire. But dogs are unable to perspire, and rely almost exclusively on panting. While panting, a dog pulls air quickly over the tongue, which causes saliva to evaporate and create a cooling effect – much like when humans perspire.

Panting is very slow and inefficient, however, which is why it’s crucial that during the summer months you provide your dog with a cool place to rest and plenty of fresh, clean water.

However, even if you’re careful, your dog may still struggle with exposure on hot days. Here are four warning signs to look for that will tell if you your dog is suffering from exposure:

A Bright, Swollen Tongue

Since panting is the only way dogs can regulate their temperature, their circulatory systems will push extra blood to the tongue when they become uncomfortably hot. This will cause the tongue to swell and become bright pink or red in color. This is your first warning that your dog is starting to overheat.

Excessive Salivating

More likely referred to as “drooling,” the production of extra saliva is another way that dogs maximize the effectiveness of panting to stay cool. If your dog starts panting and drooling excessively, or begins to produce foam at the corners of her mouth, she definitely needs to find a cool place to rest.

Vomiting or Diarrhea

These are signs that your dog is beginning to feel nauseous or queasy, which means she is entering the more severe stages of heat stroke. If these symptoms appear, you should immediately help your dog cool down by getting her inside, and possibly moistening hear paws or ears with water.

Confusion and Staggering

If your dog starts to sway back and forth or wobble on her feet, or if she appears confused or dazed, this is a sign that she is already suffering from moderate heat stroke, and she may only have a few minutes before being seriously injured. You should take her inside and place her near a fan or air conditioner, moisten her paws and ears, and call your veterinarian for further assistance.