Family,  Pets

Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs & Preventative Measures

As the sunny days of summer roll in, it’s time for us to be extra cautious about our furry friends’ well-being. Dogs, like humans, can suffer from heat stroke, and it’s our responsibility to keep them cool and comfortable during the summer months. Heat stroke can be fatal for dogs, so making sure to know the signs to look out for, as well as the preventative measures that you can take, could save your best friend’s life. 

So grab yourself a nice cold drink and settle in whilst I go through the warning signs, preventative actions, and treatment options when considering the signs of heat stroke in dogs.

Signs Of Heat Stroke In Dogs: Spotting the Warning Signs

Man’s best friend cannot verbally communicate their discomfort, so it’s up to us to be extra cautious and pay attention to our dog’s behaviour during the hot weather. There are some undeniable telltale signs of heat stroke in dogs, so always look out for:

  • Excessive Panting: Dogs pant to regulate their body temperature, but if you notice your pup panting excessively or struggling to catch their breath, it could be a sign of heat stroke as they’re unable to cool themselves down.
  • Excessive Drooling: While it’s normal for some dogs to drool more than others if you notice an unusually large amount of drool or thick, ropey saliva, it’s time to take action.
  • Rapid Heartbeat: You should familiarise yourself with your dog’s heartbeat when they’re resting or exercising in a cool environment. This will help you to gauge whether their heartbeat is racing rapidly during the summer, as a racing heart could indicate heat stroke. 
  • Lethargy and Weakness: If your normally energetic pooch suddenly seems sluggish, weak, or unsteady on their feet, it’s time to intervene.
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea: Heat stroke can cause digestive upset, leading to vomiting and diarrhoea. Keep an eye out for these signs, as they may indicate heat stroke.

Related Post: How To Help A Dog That Is Suffering From Anxiety

If you witness any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s time to take immediate action. Here’s a handy infographic for you to save on your phone, computer, or Pin on Pinterest.

What to Do When You Spot Signs Of Heat Stroke In Dogs

If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, it’s time to act fast. Take these steps to help them cool down and seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible. Remember that your dog’s body temperature needs to be lowered gradually for the best chance of survival.

Move your dog to a cooler area.

The first thing you will want to do is to move your dog to a shady or air-conditioned area in order to help its body temperature reduce. 

Treat the signs of heat stroke in dogs with cool water.

Once in a cooler area, pour cool water over your dog. Make sure the water isn’t cold, as this can induce shock. Tap water has been found to be the most effective at cooling dogs with heat-related illnesses. With that being said, in a true emergency, any water is better than no water at all. 

Offer your dog fresh water to drink.

Provide your dog with some cool fresh water to drink. However, do not force them to drink this as it could lead to choking; let them decide for themselves if they want to drink or not.

Make sure your dog is kept cool.

It can be tempting to place a wet towel over your dog, however, this often does more harm than good. According to the RSPCA, a wet towel draped over a dog traps heat; it is therefore much better to place the towel under the dog and continue to pour cool water over their fur. 

Avoid pouring water over your dog’s face.

When treating heat-related illnesses, ensure that you do not pour water over your dog’s face as this can lead to choking or drowning. This is especially true for flat-faced or unconscious dogs. 

Take your dog to the nearest vet immediately. 

Even if your dog appears to be recovering, it’s crucial to contact your vet immediately. Heat stroke can cause serious internal damage, so professional guidance is essential.

  • Important Note: Dogs that have lost consciousness will stop panting, even though they still have a very high temperature. If your dog loses consciousness, it will require urgent and aggressive cooling. 

Preventative Actions To Stop The Signs Of Heat Stroke In Dogs 

As you can see, heat stroke is a scary and highly fatal illness, however, it is completely preventable. Now that you know the signs of heat strokes in dogs, let’s look at the preventative actions that can be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen to your dog. 

  • Never leave your dog in a parked car. Even if you’re only nipping into the shop or dropping something off. And even if the windows are open. Parked cars can cause dogs to succumb to heat stroke within minutes, even if the car isn’t parked in direct sunlight. According to PETA: “On a 26-degree day, the inside of a vehicle parked in the sun can reach 70 degrees in just minutes.”
  • Keep your dogs indoors as much as possible. Unlike us humans, dogs can only sweat through their footpads and they maintain their body temperature by panting. High temperatures can cause immense heat stress and prove fatal to your dog.
  • Walk your dogs, don’t run – unless it’s very early in the morning or late at night. By mid-morning, temperatures in summer are often too hot, or the humidity levels are too high, for you to run or cycle with your dog. Dogs will keep going until the collapse, at which point it is likely going to be too late to save them. Exercise your dogs during the early hours or later in the evenings to ensure the temperatures are cooler.
  • Always check the temperature of the pavements. Dogs’ footpads easily burn on hot pavements and sand, so always test the surface with your hand before taking them for a walk. 
  • Keep them hydrated. Always carry a portable water bottle and bowl with you when you’re out and about with your dog.
  • Stock up on cooling accessories. Invest in some dog-friendly accessories, such as cooling mats and bandanas to help keep your dog cool during the summer months.

What to do if you spot a dog suffering in a hot car.

Now that you know the signs of heat stroke in dogs, you will understand just how fatal this illness is.

  • If you come across a dog suffering inside a hot car, you should immediately call 999. 
  • Note the car’s colour, make, and registration number and try to find the owner of the vehicle.
  • If you cannot find the owner, or they’re taking too long and the dog’s life appears to be in danger, find a witness who will back up your assessment of the situation before taking steps to remove the animal from the car.
  • Stay at the scene with your witness until the authorities arrive and the situation has been resolved. 

Sharing this information can save the lives of dogs up and down the country this summer.

If you have found this post helpful, please share it across your social media channels using the share icons below. Additionally, feel free to pin the image below – or any of the infographic images featured in this post – to Pinterest. Spreading awareness of heat-related illnesses in dogs can be the difference between life and death this summer, so please share this information with your fellow dog parents. Thank you!

Rachael is a 31 year old mum to 10 year old Luke and 5 year old Oscar. She lives in England and writes about family life, crafts, recipes, parenting wins(and fails), as well as travel, days out, fashion and living the frugal lifestyle.

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