Hot weather is a serious test for dogs of any breed, but if you become the owner of an Akita – a beauty with plush hair – pay special attention to their protection against overheating.
Who is at risk?
Плотная шелковистая шубка, которой обладает собака этой породы, прекрасно защищает ее от холода зимой, но в летнее время может стать причиной серьезного нарушения здоровья.
Risk group includes:
- puppies and young pets (up to 2 years old) with the heat exchange is still developing and far from perfect;
- obese Akitas;
- old dogs having a weak heart and metabolic disorders;
- dogs recently taken from north to south.
But even if your pet does not belong to any of these subgroups, you need to help them tolerate the overheating.
Sometimes, in attempt to help the dog, inexperienced owners make mistakes that can lead to serious consequences, including cardiac arrest and death of the animal.
What you should not do?
- Do not shower your Akita under any circumstances!
Fur provides at least minimal sun protection. Wet undercoat hair dries for a long time, limits the air access, and enhancing the thermal effect.
- Do not throw your dog into cold water!
Instant temperature drop can backfire the animal, causing seizures, severe heart pain, lungs pain, and even cardiovascular shock is possible. Quick immersion into cold water is dangerous for a human too! Take the dog to the waterside, let them wet their paws, make a few steps, get used to the water temperature, and then bathe.
- Do not let your pet drink ice water and do not put ice on the head.
Such actions may cause seizures and heart problems.
If you decided to cover your pet with a wet cloth, check every 5 minutes to see if the dog is not getting hot. Covering with a damp cloth is possible only for a short time and under control.
What to do if your Akita overheated
A loving owner will always find a way to ease their pet suffering.
- Go for a walk in the early morning and late evening, avoiding sweltering heat. Pick new routes to motivate your dog for more exploration, sniffing around, looking around, and less running.
- If you need to go out during the day, take a bottle of cool, but not ice-cold water, walk mostly in the shadow of the trees.
- Noticing the dog is breathing heavily, sticks out its tongue, you should wet the belly, chest and armpits with water. Never pour water on the head or back!
- For at-risk group akitas, it might be good to purchase a reflecting body-cover. Body-covers are manufactured as vests and even large blankets that completely cover the body.
- Another trick is good when traveling with your Akita by car without air conditioning, or when staying in a hot room: a cooling pad with a special filling material. It will definitely make the dog’s life easier.
- Brush out the undercoat regularly, and if necessary, take your pet to the groomer to clear the coat from anything superfluous. This will make it easier for the dog to survive the heat.
- Supply a bowl of clean cool water at all times. The more Akita drinks, the less they overheat.
Never leave your pet inside of a car with the air conditioner turned off. Considering outdoor temperatures above 30 degrees, they can get heatstroke in 5 minutes!
How to tell if your Akita is overheating?
Veterinarians and experienced dog owners know five stages of heatstroke.
- The dog becomes lethargic, inactive, eats less, tends to lie in the shade. During the walk, Akita moves slowly, lags behind. She looks tired and a little sick even without physical activity.
- On the second stage, the Akita’s owner may notice that her tongue becomes an unusual color: very bright or too dark. Gently pull back the lower eyelid, look at the mucous membranes. If they turn red, the pet is in danger of overheating.
- The animal’s breath is heavy, and sides are shaking. Usually energetic Akita don’t want to go anywhere, refuses to eat, only drinks water a lot. Measure the temperature, and you will see that it is slightly increased. It’s time to take serious measures and help your pup.
- Severe condition: the dog is barely moving, breathing becomes shallow and intermittent. At this stage, the mucous membranes become either very dark or pale. Often, Akita continuously drools – that is a sign that she is feeling nauseous, and does not want to drink water. Trying to lift the dog up-feet, she staggers, looks very weak. Provide immediate help to your Akita!
- The fifth stage starts with seizures, the dog is often semi-conscious. Nothing can be done on your own, you need help of a veterinarian as soon as possible!
How to help on your own?
In many situations, the owner himself can help the overheated Akita. Keep in mind that signs of heatstroke can sometimes appear immediately, or 2-3 hours after being outdoors.
Easy cases: Help
Take your pet to the shade, supply cool, but not ice water.
- Apply cool water bottles to the belly, armpits, groin area, you can also wipe these parts with a damp cloth.
- You can put the dog into the water (bath, river, ditch) up to the middle of the chest. Just make sure the water is not too cold.
- Place your pet on a cooling pad and cover with a reflective blanket. You can apply a bottle with a cool water to the back of the head.
- Keep an eye on the dog’s temperature and breathing, check mucous membranes. Sometimes Akita may cool down and try to get up, getting anxious. Let her walk a little, maybe she just got cold.
- Watch your pet for a couple hours, do not let her stay in the sun, in a hot room, or in a blistering car. It is best to keep the dog in the shade, under trees, in the fresh air.
- Keep in mind that overheating wears out the dog, so try to avoid high temperatures for 2-3 weeks.
Severe cases: Help
When you clearly see your Akita entered stage 3-4 of heatstroke, take urgent measures! The best way is to give her water, cool down the car with air conditioner and take her to the doctor.
- If the way requires a long time, the place is far away, there is no air conditioning, and the dog does not have seizures, you can try to help on your own. Act gradually.
- For example, you are on a walk, far from home. Look for a lowland with water, stream, or river – your pet needs cool water immediately. Under any circumstances, do not water the dog from above – take her into the water, gradually cool the legs and belly. Apply a bottle with a cool water or other cold object on the back of the dog’s head. It is also necessary to water the Akita abundantly, even pour water into her mouth.
- When a severe case occurs at home, and the dog got sick after a walk, you need to do two things: water properly and cool down your pet.
- You should know in advance your pet’s normal temperature. Manage to normal results, constantly measuring the temperature. If the temperature drops low, meaning you have overcooled the dog, you need to her for a while to warm up; and vice versa: the temperature goes up – get it down again.
- In case Akita refuses to drink water, starts vomiting, has seizures – take her to the veterinarian immediately!
Usually, it will take 2-3 hours to carry the dog in for its condition to improve; and for at least 10-12 hours she will feel bad. Weakness, nausea, headache torment animals, just like people.
Extreme cases: what to do
If the dog is having seizures, and unconscious, the only way is to seek professional medical help. The dog urgently needs a saline drip!
- Get a car, take your Akita to a veterinary hospital, or invite a veterinarian, a paramedic, or a nurse to your home – anyone who can put your pet on a drip. You will need saline or Ringer’s solution, large syringe, or dropper system. If intravenous administration is not possible, you can slowly infuse the solution subcutaneously. The solution should be cool.
- Simultaneously, cool the dog’s body: apply bottles with water where hair is the least.
- After the first aid, get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Sadly, but after a hard heatstroke Akita will need to be protected from overheating for the rest of their life.
Tips & Tricks
Even if everything goes well, be sure to show your pet to the veterinarian in 2-3 weeks. Usually such conditions lead to development of heart disease. Akita may need to be treated.
Take care of your lovely pet! During hot weather, stay out of burning sun, supply fresh cool water, be sure to purchase a cooling vest. Always monitor their health.
May your Akita be always healthy and bring you a lot of joy!