Heat Stroke in Dogs. What Are the Signs, How to Prevent It and What to Do.

heat stroke in dogs

Hot weather can be very dangerous and increases the risk of heat stroke in dogs.

Unlike humans, dogs have very few sweat glands and when they are too hot, they mainly eliminate the heat by panting. When panting is not enough, the body temperature will rise, which can be fatal in minutes.

How to prevent heatstroke?

  1. When the weather is nice, make sure your dog has access to fresh water, shaded areas when he is outside and that he does not over-exercise. When the temperature becomes extremely hot, he should be kept indoors and walks should be limited to a few minutes when the temperature is cooler at sunset and sunrise.

  2. You should be even more careful if your dog has a flat face (bulldogs, pugs…) or if he has an underlying condition such as a heart or lung disease or is overweight, as he will be even more prone to heat stroke.

  3. Never leave your dog in a parked car, even for a few minutes, even in the shade. A parked car can become a furnace in no time, even with the windows open.

  4. If your dog has long or medium hair, giving him a lightweight summer haircut helps prevent overheating. However, ensure that you don’t have him shaved too short, as the coat gives him protection from the sun.

What are the signs of heatstroke?

Excessive panting and difficulty breathing will be the first signs of overheating. When the condition worsens, signs can include increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhoea, and/or vomiting.

What to do?

If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, the first thing to do is to cover his body with damped towels and place ice packs on top (bags of frozen vegetables can do if you don’t have ice) and rush to the vet.

On the way to the vet, travel with the windows open AND the air conditioning switched on high.

Do not give your pet aspirin or paracetamol to lower his temperature, this will be ineffective and lead to further complications.

At the vet, treatment will consist mostly of replacing lost fluids and minerals with IV fluid therapy. Secondary complications such as kidney failure, development of neurologic symptoms, abnormal clotting, changes in blood pressure, and electrolyte abnormalities will also be monitored.

This blog was written by Michaela Gradinger at Vienna Veterinary Clinic. Visit them and save up to 30% with the Treats Card Membership.