Too Hot to Handle: Heatstroke in Dogs

Heatstroke in dogs is very common, especially during this time of year. We’re going to go through the basics of heatstroke, how you can prevent it, and how to temporarily treat it. If you’re looking at this blog for immediate help, please contact us right away and we will help you immediately!

The Basics

First, what is heatstroke? It is a type of hyperthermia, which is not to be confused with hypothermia. The difference in these two medical conditions is an extremely high and an extremely low body temperature, respectively. In dogs specifically, heatstroke happens when their internal temperature reaches 105℉ and above, when it normally rests around 101.5℉. 

What are the signs of heatstroke? The most common and noticeable symptom is an excessive amount of panting. Instead of sweating to cool off, like we do, dogs pant. If your pooch is panting really fast and is not slowing down, this could be a sign that your dog is starting to experience some hyperthermia. In addition to uncontrolled panting, dogs will drool, have a very fast heart rate, have a dry nose, have very red gums, are unresponsive or slower to move, and are warm to the touch. These are the less severe symptoms. As the hyperthermia worsens, there could be vomiting, blood in their stool or vomit samples, seizures, muscle tremors, unbalanced movement, comas, and eventually death. There are more symptoms related to heat stroke, so if your dog is experiencing others, check out this link


One of the most basic rules when it comes to preventable illnesses is simple:  monitor your animal. If your dog starts showing any of the signs mentioned above, continue to monitor how your pet behaves. There are a few things you should be aware of when your dog is outdoors. One of the most important things to remember is that your dog is NOT excluded from heatstroke no matter what breed. Long-haired and short-nosed breeds are more likely to suffer from it, but that does not mean that your lab won’t suffer from it. 

As you and your dog are outside on warmer days, pay close attention to how you feel outside. If it’s too hot or humid for you to be outside, it is too hot for your furry companion. The only way dogs cool off, as we mentioned, is by panting. This means that they don’t have many options to get rid of that excess heat. When it’s hot/ humid outside, make sure your pal will have more than enough water and somewhere shady to cool off. At the same time, don’t overwork your dog in terms of exercise, especially if your dog is heavier. 

If you’re taking your dog on a little grocery run, or camping, or going through your fields, remember that they can also suffer from heat stroke while being in a car. If there isn’t adequate ventilation or air conditioning, then your dog could very well get heat stroke while you aren’t looking. 

Remember, all this boils down to just monitoring how your dog is doing. If it’s nothing out of the ordinary, it’s nothing to worry about. 

Temporary Treatment

Remember that this is all very temporary; no matter what you do to help, you should immediately go to the nearest animal hospital to get medical attention. In order to alleviate or minimize the symptoms your dog is having, you need to bring down their body temperature. Remember that a dog’s normal body temperature should be about 101.5℉, so having a rectal thermometer to monitor that number is very helpful. Using cool – not cold – water, sponge or hose your dog’s entire body. Continue to monitor their temperature, and take them immediately to your veterinary clinic. Calling the vet in advance is beneficial, as they may give you other options on how to manage your dog’s heat stroke. 
If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us! Let us know how we can help you!


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