Heatstroke in Dogs

Heatstroke in dogs is definitely not something that you should take for granted. As summer is just around the corner, it is our responsibility, as pet parents, to know how heat is affecting our pets. Heatstroke in dogs is a serious thing and can lead to death if not treated immediately.

Heatstroke in dogs
Photographer: Stas Svechnikov | Source: Unsplash

To help you keep up with your pet's reaction to the summer heat, here are signs of heatstroke in dogs and ways on how you can prevent this life-threatening incident.

Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Unlike us humans, our dogs are not able to sweat out their extra body heat. Though they have sweat glands located in their paws, it only does a little to help them regulate their body temperature. And what do they do instead? They pant with a fast and open-mouth breathing. But sometimes this panting just ain't enough and that's how they begin overheating.

Physical Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs

Excessive panting, heavy breathing and signs of discomfort can be warning signs of heatstroke in dogs. Other signs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Reddened gums
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody Diarrhea
  • Nose bleed
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Collapse
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures

What Causes Heatstroke in Dogs?

A warm environment your dog has not yet fully been able to adjust to is the main cause of heatstroke in dogs. The most common is the carelessness of some pet parents in leaving their dogs inside cars and not being able to provide them water or shade.

Since all dogs are different, some dogs are more prone to experiencing heat stroke. These dogs are senior dogs, overweight dogs, and brachycephalic dogs (like bulldogs, pugs, and flat-faced canines). But even dogs who are used to long play times, exercise and active work must also be monitored for signs of heatstroke in dogs, particularly on very warm days.

Immediate Care

Heatstroke in dogs is considered to be an emergency situation and immediate care is a must!

  • Transfer your dog away from the hot area he's in to somewhere cooler.
  • Let your dog drink water but do not force him.
  • Never give your dog aspirin to try to lower his temperature. The use of antipyretic drugs such as aspirin is contraindicated, as these drugs will alter the hypothalamic thermoregulation set point and dogs on a heatstroke already have a normal hypothalamic set point. When a dog's internal temperature is becoming too low or high, it sends signals to the muscles, organs, glands, and nervous system.
  • Put your dog in a bath tub or a basin and look for a water hose. If not available and you're not able to submerge his entire body in water, you can place a wet towel on his back to soak him. Wet your dog's body, particularly his neck and the back of his head. This lowers the dog's temperature and helps him cool down.
  • Never submerge your dog's head in water. Doing so will lead to aspiration pneumonia.
  • If your dog collapses, make sure no water gets inside his nose and mouth.
  • In the case of nose bleeding, put an ice pack right on the corner of your dog's nose just before the eyes and keep your dog's head elevated.
  • Call your veterinarian to inform that you are on the way and bring the dog ASAP to the nearest vet clinic.

Heatstroke Prevention

Heatstroke in dogs is life threatening that's why you should always make sure:

  • Your dog stays in a cool, well-ventilated area
  • always provide fresh water
  • Never (ever!) Leave your dog in warm areas
  • Keep watch of times of the day where it is extremely warm, at around 12 noon to 3 in the afternoon.
  • When traveling, see to it that your dog is placed inside a large crate where he can move well and should be well-ventilated
  • Never leave him inside the car even if the windows are slightly opened and under a shade.

Heat stroke is no joke. Don’t let it happen to your pet!