How to Spot, Prevent, & Treat Heat Stroke in Dogs
Learn how to identify the signs of heat exhaustion in dogs and help Fido fight off the heat./
Today’s forecast? Sunny with a 100% chance of jumping through the neighbor’s sprinkler…if we had to guess.
Whatever your pup’s favorite summer activity might be, it’s important to take extra precautions to prevent your dog from overheating and suffering from a heat stroke. Older dogs, overweight dogs, and puppies are the most vulnerable, but even younger and healthier dogs can fall victim to a heat stroke! Find out what you can do to make sure your dog stays nice and cool during these hot days.
WHAT IS HEAT STROKE?
If your dog’s temperature gets too high, they could suffer from a heat stroke. Before we dive into the specifics, it’s important to know that dogs only have a few sweat glands in their foot pads, so they mainly rely on panting to cool down. If your dog is excessively panting or breathing erratically, this could be one of the first signs of heat stroke.
Other signs and symptoms to watch out for include:
Less responsive to commands
Stumbling or dizziness
Vomiting or diarrhea (may be bloody)
Bright red, pale or bluish gums
A heat stroke is serious since it could lead to cardiac arrest or death. However, if you pay close attention to your dog during those humid outdoor activities, they should be just fine.
HOW TO PREVENT YOUR DOG FROM GETTING HEAT STROKE
Luckily, there are many easy ways you can help your pup stay safe in the sweltering heat. One of the biggies? Always, always, always give your dog access to fresh water. Pro tip: You could buy a collapsible doggie water bowl to keep your dog hydrated while you’re on the move.
Here are other ways you can help your dog stay safe and avoid a heat stroke:
NEVER leave your dog in the car. Yes, even on those seemingly mild 60° to 70°F days. Whether your window is cracked or not, temperatures inside of a car can easily rise 40°F within minutes. In many states, it’s even illegal!
We know your pup has energy for days, but don’t let your dog over-exert themselves during play. Dogs just don’t have an “off” buttonand can easily play too hard or too long without owner intervention.
It might not come as a surprise, but humid days increase the likelihood of heat stroke in dogs. This is why you should schedule walks for cooler times of the day (think early morning or after dinner).
When possible, walk your dog on the grass or in shady areas and avoid asphalt or concrete because they absorb heat and can cause second degree burns on paw pads. Ouch!
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DOG GETS HEAT STROKE
If you suspect that your dog has been affected by a heat stroke, they should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible—even if they seem to have fully recovered from the episode and are doing OK. Heat stroke is nothing to mess around with since it can cause serious damage to internal organs and requires prompt treatment.
If you’ve seen the signs and think that your dog might be having a heat stroke, immediately take the following steps:
Move out of the sun and relocate to a shaded or air-conditioned location as soon as you can.
Start cooling measures and take the dog to a veterinarian immediately. To cool the dog, spray them with cool (NOT COLD) water or place sopping wet towels soaked in cool water over your dog’s body. It’s very important that you use cool water and do NOT use cold water or ice since both could shock the body and lead to core body heat retention.
Once you’re on the way to the veterinarian, turn the air conditioning on or open your car windows to create a breeze for your dog.
Now that you know how to effectively spot, prevent and treat heat stroke, it’s time to get out there and soak up the sun with your pup—responsibly and worry-free.