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Heat Stroke, Drowning Treatment


E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge and Exhibition Editor


Drowning and heat stroke claim over 12,000 dogs each summer! Dogs can drown in swimming pools, rivers, or lakes, they may instinctively know how to swim but if panicked or handicapped… How to prevent tragedy, also heat stroke treatment.




Drowning or heat stroke claims over 12,000 dogs each summer! Learning these safety tips and emergency treatment can prevent tragedy. If you have a swimming pool, introduce your dog to the pool in brief increments. First, take him to the area where there are steps. Allow your dog to go in and out with you until it understands.


Pets frequently drown in lakes or swift water on camping trips. Dogs like to fetch and play in water. Even so, older dogs, heavy coated or heavy bodied dogs tire easily, even if they are excellent swimmers. The Bully breeds find just keeping their head above water is difficult due to their broad chests, heavy bodies, and short legs!


Being a sheltie breeder, I wanted to know the effect the double, long coat had on the sheltie’s ability to swim. While at a friend’s house, I took my dog in their pool and stayed with him. He SWAM, however, as his coat became saturated, he sank lower and lower until only his nose was above water. He was WATERLOGGED and had I not been there with him, he would have drowned. There was no place for him to get out of the water and with his coat, could he have managed to do so? NO! Therefore I do not run my dogs near water and I do not encourage them to play on the bank.



BOATING AND WATER SAFETY FOR YOUR DOGCanine life jackets or water wings are available online or at your local pet store. You and the kids wear life jackets because accidents can happen. The same applies to your dogs.


Many ponds are stagnant. Algae forms and can very dangerous and cause illnesses. Dogs can become tangled in the weeds beneath the water. The joy of watching your dog play in the pond may be snuffed out in a second when he becomes entangled in the lily pads and cannot reach the bank. Drop-eared dogs must have their ears cleaned and dried or fungus can grow in the ears (note shaking of the head) and require veterinary treatment. Make sure your dog’s coat dries thoroughly (to the skin) that day to avoid hot spots. Rinsing your dog with clean water is advisable because farming chemicals often drain in to local ponds and can make him itchy or sick.


Don’t allow your dog to drink out of stagnant puddles. Take fresh water and a collapsible bowl with you as part of your regular camping and travel equipment. Also take plastic bags to pick up your dog’s waste so you can dispose of it in a container. Make the area pleasant for other dog owners and children.


You are responsible for your dog’s safety and especially during the hot summer. ALWAYS HAVE FRESH WATER AVAILABLE FOR YOUR DOG AND CHANGE THE BOWL OFTEN. Empty left over food as it sours immediately and becomes infested with bugs and fly larvae. BE SURE YOUR DOG HAS SHADE AND SHELTER AT ALL TIMES.


DO NOT SHAVE YOUR DOG.  The naturally long coat protects delicate skin from sunburn! Do remove burrs from the coat and groom your dog often in spring and fall when he is shedding. For really big coated dogs, you might want to take them to a professional groomer for a bath and blow dry grooming. Your dog will appreciate it.



If you find your dog in distress, especially if he is still in the water or has just emerged, hold him upside down with legs in the air and shake him, taking care not to pull a muscle in the process. Lay him down and turn his mouth sideway, pull the tongue forward and sideways to allow water to escape. If he seems unable to catch a breath, pump his chest and resuscitate him as you would a person. Lower temperature and heart rate is expected as water is in the lungs. If he doesn’t quickly breathe and come around completely, take him to the nearest veterinarian. It may take several days of treatment to save your dog. It may require oxygen, fluids, and medication, and a big checkbook, not to mention the guilt felt for failing to insure the safety of your dog.



Not even for a few minutes during the summer. If you find your dog collapsed with heat, immediately hose him down, starting with the feet, up the legs, groin and belly. Even if he seems okay, TAKE HIM TO THE VET TO PREVENT OR TREAT FOR INTERNAL ORGAN DAMAGE.


Make the summer a fun time for you, your family and your canine friend. EST 1998 © Sept 2011



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