The answer is YES, especially with the hot and humid climate in Singapore. Heatstroke occurs when the dog suffers from dehydration, exhaustion and an uncontrollable rise in body temperature (normal body temperature of dogs: 38ºC-39.5ºC; when heat stroke occurs, the dog’s temperature can rise up to 42ºC and this is LIFE THREATENING!).
How can my dog suffer from heatstroke?
Heatstroke can occur when your dog overexerts itself (e.g. when they are forced to run long distances or at a high speed in Singapore's hot and humid climate). Heatstroke can also occur when your dog does not receive enough water before or during exercise.
Is my dog at risk?
In general, bigger breeds of dogs like German Shepherds or Golden Retrievers generally have better stamina than smaller breeds of dogs like Pomeranians or Chihuahuas. However, due to their thicker fur coat, they can also suffer from heatstroke more easily if proper care is not taken.
Sporting or hunting dogs like Jack Russells and Beagles are generally more athletic, hence they can cope with longer distances better. But care must also be given, especially if they run too fast or if they are exercising under the hot sun.
Brachycephalic dogs (dogs with shortened nasal passages, flat faces and bulging eyes) like Bull dogs and Pugs will have respiratory distress when overexerted.
If your dog has dark (or black) coloured fur, take special note that they can absorb heat more easily. It is important that you do not walk/run your dog under the hot sun.
It is important to understand the breed and size of your dog, and then decide sensibly how long and how fast they can walk/run. On an average, it is advisable that you walk/run with your dog at a comfortable pace for about ½ hour during the cooler periods of the day.
How can I prevent my dog from getting heatstroke?
- With the hot and humid weather in Singapore, it is important to take extra care when you bring your dog out for a walk or run.
- Do so during cooler times of the day i.e. mornings or evenings.
- Allow your dog to drink sufficiently before exercise.
- Bring along water (and a portable water bowl) for your dog.
- Always allow your dog to walk or run at their own pace and NEVER force them to over exert themselves.
- Many people love to cycle while their dogs run alongside them. This is safe only when you do it at a pace that is comfortable for your dog, and when you do so during the cooler periods of the day.
- It is also important to understand the stamina and physique of your dog. If they have not ran long distances or at high speeds before, be sure to allow sufficient time for your dog to ‘train up’.
- Dogs are like us; we all need time to build up our stamina and strength in any form of exercise or sports
How else can I help my dog?
1. Understand the physiological needs of your dog
- If you have a big dog, do not leave them out in the garden under the scorching hot sun without any decent shade or shelter.
- Always provide a fresh water supply. It is preferable that dogs with long and thick fur coat be kept indoors with a fan or aircon turned on for them.
2. Assess the environment your pet is in.
- If you have a big garden, always provide shelter (e.g. big trees, kennels. But note the material of your kennel as zinc roof tops trap heat, making the air in the kennel too hot!).
- If you have a small dog in your apartment, make sure they are kept in a room that is well-ventilated and that they have means of getting away from the glaring afternoon sun searing through the windows.
- If your dog is highly excitable, make sure they have plenty of fresh water and are kept in a shaded/sheltered environment.
3. Do not leave your pet dogs (or any other animal!) in your unattended car!
- Even if you leave the aircon on or open the windows slightly, there is always the potential risk of heatstroke or stress. It is much wiser to take your pet along with you when you leave the car. If it is not possible to bring your animal with you, bring them home and settle them comfortably at home before leaving to run your errand.
If your dog starts panting and salivating heavily during a walk, provide cold drinking water and cool the animal down with a cold bath as soon as possible. If there is no improvement, please take your pet to a veterinarian immediately!