Signs and Symptoms (for people):
Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion often begin suddenly, sometimes after excessive exercise, heavy perspiration, and inadequate fluid or salt intake. Signs and symptoms resemble those of shock and may include:
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Heavy sweating
- Rapid, weak heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Cool, moist, pale skin
- Low-grade fever
- Heat cramps
- Dark-colored urine
If you suspect heat exhaustion:
- Get the person out of the sun and into a shady or air-conditioned location.
- Lay the person down and elevate the legs and feet slightly.
- Loosen or remove the person's clothing, including any hat.
- Have the person drink cool water or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine, sports drink if available to replace electrolytes.
- Cool the person by spraying or sponging him or her with cool water and fanning. Place cool compresses (moist towels) on the forehead, armpits, groin, chest and shoulders near surface arteries.
- Monitor the person carefully. Heat exhaustion can quickly become heatstroke. If the person isn't feeling better within 60 minutes, call 911.
- If fever greater than 102 F (38.9 C), fainting, confusion or seizures occur, call 911 immediately.
- Wear loose fitting clothing
- Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non caffeine fluids, even if not thirsty.
- Use sun screen
- Wear light colored hat
Canines only have sweat glands on the pads of their feet and on their nose, which are inadequate for cooling during hot and humid days. Panting helps dogs cool themselves but they still aren't as efficient at cooling themselves as people.
Signs and Symptoms (for dogs):
Heavy panting, tongue turns bright red or purple.
Dog begins huffing and puffing or gasping for air, often with rasping sounds.
Strange facial expressions, bug eyes
Hot skin, temperature over 104
Dog begins to weave when it walks due to dizziness
Dog lays down or collapses and can't get up
If left untreated dog will slip into unconsciousness and die.
Remedies (for dogs):
Cease all activity. Before heading to a vet (which is most people's first reaction, but wrong)
- Get dog out of the sun, out of any hot vehicle, into air conditioning if possible, at least in the shade.
- Give it water, but not too much nor too fast.
- Plunge dog in water, or wet down with a hose, or rub liberally with a dripping wet cloth, especially under arms, legs and belly.
- Place before a fan, or hand fan, to increase evaporation.
- If available, place ice bags around the dog's head and neck to cool the blood.
The main cause of heat exhaustion in dogs is being left in a hot car. Even with windows down, there is not enough circulation on hot humid days. Don't coop your dog up in a car, especially in high humidity. Overweight and/or older dogs, and dogs with pug noses, are especially succeptible to heat exhaustion.
Don't leave home unprepared for your outdoor outing. Plenty of water, snacks, wash cloths, first aid kits (one for people, another for dogs). Carry the phone number of a local 24 hour emergency vet with you at all times.
We should all follow the Girl Scout motto: BE PREPARED.
Upwards and onward!