heatstroke can be quite dangerous as a condition affecting dogs during the warmer months of the year. Here, our Hermitage vets define heatstroke in dogs and share recommendations on how to prevent heatstroke and what to do if you think that your dog is suffering from this serious condition.
What is heatstroke in dogs?
As the hot weather arrives, heatstroke (also called heat exhaustion) is a serious - and potentially even fatal - condition that can start to affect our canine companions. When a dog’s body temperature is elevated above a normal range (101.5°F), hyperthermia (fever) can occur.
Heatstroke is a form of hyperthermia. It happens when the heat-dissipating mechanisms in your dog’s body are overwhelmed by excessive heat. When your pup's body temperature rises past 104°F, they enter the danger zone. If body temperature is above 105°F, this indicates heatstroke.
Because of this, we need to ensure our dogs stay as comfortable and cool as possible during the summer months.
Causes of Heatstroke in Dogs
On summer days, a vehicle's temperature can quickly exceed dangerous levels (even when the inside of our vehicles do not seem “that hot” to us, remember that your dog has a fur coat on). Leave the dog at home while you shop.
A lack of access to water and shade in your backyard or at the beach can also spell trouble. Shade and water are vital on warm weather days, especially for dogs with medical conditions such as obesity, and senior dogs.
Your dog's breed may also be a contributing factor when it comes to heatstroke. Flat-faced and short-nosed dog breeds will tend to be a bit more vulnerable to breathing issues, making it difficult for them to regulate their body temperature. As you might imagine, dogs sporting thick coats can also quickly become uncomfortable. Each dog (even ones who love spending time outside engaging in activities) requires close supervision, especially on days when temperatures are on the rise.
Heatstroke Symptoms in Dogs
During spring and summer, watch carefully for signs of heatstroke in dogs including any combination of the following symptoms:
- Red gums
- Mental “dullness” or flatness
- Collapsing or loss of consciousness
- Excessive panting
- Signs of discomfort
- Unable or unwilling to move (or uncoordinated movement)
If your pooch is displaying any of the above heatstroke symptoms it's time to take action.
What To Do If Your Dog Shows Signs of Heatstroke
Fortunately, heatstroke in dogs can be reversed if it's detected as it is just beginning to set in. if you notice that your dog is showing any of the symptoms listed above, take them to a cooler place with lots of air circulation as soon as possible. If your dog's symptoms fon't improve quickly and you aren't able to take your dog's temperature, contact your veterinarian for advice as soon as you can.
Take your dog's temperature if you have access to a rectal thermometer. If their temperature is above 104°F, this qualifies as an emergency and your dog will need to see a vet. If this temperature is above 105°F, immediately hose or sponge your dog’s body with cool (not cold) water. Pay special attention to their stomach. A fan may also be useful. Contact your vet or your nearest emergency vet for further instructions.
Heatstroke is a very serious condition. Take your dog to a vet right away whether you are able to reduce their temperature or not.
How to Help Prevent Your Dog From Getting Heatstroke
In order to help prevent your dog from getting heatstroke, be very cautious about how much time your dog spends outside or in the sun during the summer. Don't expose your dog to heat and humidity as much as you can. Their aren't able to handle it.
NEVER leave your dog in a car with closed windows - even if you park in the shade. Provide your pooch with lots of shade to retreat to and easy access to cool water. A well-ventilated dog crate or specially designed seat belt for dogs may also work well.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.