How to Recognize the Signs of Heatstroke in Your Dog

Did you know dogs are at risk of heatstroke? As the weather heats up, human bodies’ sweat as a way to regulate our body temperature, but our pups are at greater risk since they don't have sweat glands. If a dog gets overheated, this can lead to heatstroke and severe health issues -- and sometimes death. Even worse, it can happen in minutes.

To keep your dog safe this summer season, it’s worth recognizing the signs of heatstroke and showing a little precaution when temps climb into the 90’s.

The Symptoms of Dog Heatstroke

Fur is great for keeping warm in winter, but sometimes not so great for staying cool in summer. Many people don’t know how quickly a dog can go from hot to danger zone. The signs of heatstroke in dogs include heavy panting and lying down, but there are other not so obvious symptoms, like a fast heartbeat. Be on the lookout for:

  • Heavy panting
  • Drooling
  • Lying down (more than usual)
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Exhaustion or lethargy

If you suspect your dog has or is in danger of developing heatstroke, then you’ll want to lower his body temperature as quickly as possible. The easiest way to do that is put your dog in the bathtub and run cool water over him, especially the back of the neck.

It’s important to keep the water cool, and not cold, to prevent shock. This isn’t a case where colder is better. Your goal is cool your dog down but not through extreme measures like an ice bath.

As your dog stands in the cool water, rub him vigorously, especially the legs. A vigorous massage can help the blood flow and reduce the risk of shock. Take your dog’s temperature. If it’s above 103 Fahrenheit, your dog is in the danger zone. Continue the cool water treatment and continue taking your dog’s temperature every 5 minutes.

In the meantime, be sure to contact us (or the nearest pet emergency hospital) immediately!

Heatstroke can vary from mild to fatal because it can lead to kidney failure and swelling of the brain, which you’d never see. There are danger signs that only a veterinarian would notice, which is why heat affected dogs should always receive emergency treatment.

Replenishing vital nutrients is necessary for helping a dog recover. In some circumstances, an IV treatment may be necessary, along with monitoring for unseen conditions as mentioned above.

The Dangers of Hot Cars

One of the biggest problems with dogs and heatstroke isn’t a dog getting overheated from playing too hard. Most dogs will take a break and find some shade before that happens. Instead, it’s from well-meaning pet parents leaving their dog in their dog in the car, “just for a minute.”

Temperatures in cars can rise to over 100 degrees within 10 minutes if the outside temperature is 85 degrees - even if you “crack the windows.”  Here is a helpful chart so that you can see how quickly temperatures can rise.

So be good to your pets and leave them at home when running errands during hot summer days!

Hot Car Dangers

If you suspect your dog is overheated, please contact your veterinarian right away.

Quick action can save your dog’s life.

 

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