Heatstroke in Dogs



Heatstroke in Dogs

Heatstroke in Dogs

Heatstroke is a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion at high temperature, it is a condition caused by a body overheating and requires emergency treatment. If left untreated it can damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles that will lead to a serious injury or death.

Dog eliminate heat by panting, and when panting isn’t enough this may lead to a dog’s body temperature to rise and can be fatal if not treated immediately. A dog’s temperature is normally between 99.5 and 102.5 °F (37.5 and 39.2 °C) it is naturally higher than in humans. A dog is overheated if his temperature rich to 103 °F (39.4 °C) or higher. Note that the temperature of 109 °F (42.8 °C) is usually fatal.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Most fur parents don’t know that their fur baby is suffering in heatstroke, learning what are the signs of heatstroke in dogs will help you to prevent, or give immediate care or first aid to your dog and will reduce the other complication to occur.

  • Excessive panting
  • Signs of discomfort
  • Unable or unwilling to move around
  • Extreme thirst
  • Drooling
  • Reddened gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Mental dullness or loss of consciousness
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Collapse

It is ideal too to note the exact temperature at the time the symptoms occur and what is the activity of your dog before and during the signs of heatstroke to notify your veterinarian.

Cause of Heatstroke in Dogs

The most and natural cause of heatstroke in dogs is the hot environment like in summer season but the careless action of the fur parent is the most common cause of heatstroke in dogs, leaving a dog in a car or forgetting to provide clean water to drink by your dog and shade to a dog that is outdoors is some of the examples.

Dogs with thick fur, short noses, or those suffering from medical conditions such as laryngeal paralysis are predisposed to heatstroke. Older dogs and overweight dogs are more prone to develop this so it is very important to take extra care in their environment. Don’t be overconfident if your dog is active and healthy because even these dogs can suffer heatstroke especially in summer days.

First Aid/Immediate Care

The very first thing you should do is remove the dog from the hot environment immediately. If the dog is unconscious, make sure no water enters the nose or mouth as you follow the First Aid steps. 

Heatstroke in Dogs
  1. Allow the dog to drink cool water – Keep it small in quantity and gradually increase it at a time. Don’t force your dog to drink water, if he/she cannot drink freely on his own wet his/her lips, gums, and tongue with water squeezed from a facecloth or clean towel, using syringe will help too.
  2. Put your dog in the bathtub Or wet your using hose – If your using hose to cool down your dog’s temperature make sure to let any hot water out of the hose first before hosing your dog. If you cant find a bathtub or hose to submerge your dog in the water placing a towel on his/her back and continue to soak it and your dog in cold water will help to cool down their temperature.
  3. Do not submerge your dog’s head in the water – Keep the head elevated to prevent aspiration pneumonia.
  4. Place rubbing alcohol on the pads of the dog’s paws – Dogs release heat from their pads so putting rubbing alcohol on the pads can help draw some of the heat out.
  5. Bring your dog to the nearest Veterinarian clinic – call the vet of the nearest emergency vet clinic that you’re on your way and they will tell you what next step you should do based on your dog’s symptoms and how far away you are from the clinic.
  6. Make sure that your dog has access to cool water drink – Let him/her drink as much as they want but don’t force him/her to drink follow step 1.

Continue to give first aid or immediate care whether the dog is conscious, appears to recover well, or was only mildly affected:

  1. Check for signs of shock in your dog – The veterinarians will tell you what to look for.
  2. Take the dog’s temperature every three to five minutes – make sure to continue water-cooling until your dog’s temperature drops below 103°F (39.4°C).
  3. If your dog’s temperature drops a little more to around 100°F (37.8°C) – you don’t have to worry. A slightly low temperature is a lot less dangerous.
  4. Treat for shock if necessary – The Vet will advise you on how to do it.
  5. Heatstroke in dogs can cause unseen problems such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding, and abnormal clotting of blood. On the way to the veterinarian, it is advisable to travel by the windows open or the air conditioner is on. Immediate medical attention will lessen the occurrence of other health problems.

Veterinary Treatment of Heatstroke in Dogs

The most common treatment of Heatstroke in Dogs is replacing lost fluids and minerals, but if it severs your vet will run some tests to identify the damage and will give the proper medication or treatment according to the result.

Treatment such as intravenous fluid therapy and monitoring for secondary complications such as kidney failure, development of neurologic symptoms, abnormal clotting, changes in blood pressure, and electrolyte abnormalities is recommended to treat the dogs that suffer from heatstroke.

Preventing Heat Stroke in Dogs

Heatstroke in Dogs

Heatstroke in dogs can be prevented by taking caution not to expose a dog to hot and humid environmental conditions.  

  1. Give much attention to dogs with a special condition- Dogs that are elderly, obese, have airway diseases, breeds with shortened faces and have a history of heart disease or seizures are more likely to suffer from heat strokes and may have a lower tolerance for increased heat.
  2. Don’t ever leave your dog in a car – If you are traveling keep your dog in a dog car seat that has good ventilation, or use a dog seat belt for their safety. Make sure all the windows are closed, even if the car is parked in the shade especially in the summer. Also, make sure your dog has access to clean cold water, and never ever leave them inside without air conditioner on.
  3. Let your dog swim safely in hot weather – If a dog has access to water for swimming, or even hosing him/her down with water can help prevent heatstroke. Just make sure that the water where they swim is pet friendly like no chemicals and always supervise them.
  4. Proper Grooming – The Dog breed that has thick and long coats needs to shave or trimmed during summer to lessen the heat they experiencing.
  5. Give your dog time to rest – If you have herding or working dog and they are working in the under the sun allow them to rest and to cool down their temperature, let him/her swim or wet themself during a break and make sure that he/she has access to plenty of shade and cool water. Don’t let them work in the time of a day that has a high temperature.
  6. Don’t leave your dog outside during summer days – If it is extremely hot move your dog inside the house and make him/she stay inside an air-conditioned or well-ventilated room
  7. Give your dog clean and freshwater – If your dog is outside, make sure they have access to the clean cold water and shade, putting ice on their water bowl, and on the floor where they will lay down will help them to cool down.

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Butler Oh
Butler Oh is a long time dog lover. Dogs are always part of her family since she was young and she grows up as a loving and caring fur parent. She has been part of our team here at ohmylovelypets since 2019 and has provided a lot of great research and information about dogs.


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