Today, our Tigard vets explain the causes, symptoms, and treatments for heatstroke in dogs, along with preventive measures you can take to ensure your pet safely enjoys the sun.
What causes heat stroke in dogs?
Unlike humans who sweat, dogs eliminate heat from their bodies by panting. When panting isn’t enough, a dog’s body temperature rises, and they can experience heatstroke, which can become fatal if not treated immediately.
Any hot environment can cause heatstroke in dogs, but it is most commonly caused by the actions of careless pet owners. Things such as leaving a dog in a car or forgetting to provide adequate water and shade when they are outdoors can quickly cause your pup to develop heatstroke.
Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke than others. Dogs with thick fur, short noses, or those suffering from medical conditions are predisposed to heatstroke. Even dogs who enjoy constant exercise and playtime should be closely monitored for symptoms of heatstroke, especially on hot and humid days.
What are the symptoms of dog heat stroke?
The most telling symptom of heatstroke in dogs is excessive panting. Other symptoms may include signs of discomfort such as drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhea, mental dullness or loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, and collapse.
Heatstroke in dogs can indicate a serious medical problem and cause unseen problems, such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding, and abnormal clotting of blood. For this reason, heatstroke is considered an emergency, and immediate veterinary care is highly recommended.
What should I do if I think my dog has heatstroke?
Call your veterinarian or the nearest emergency animal hospital and tell them you are on your way. On the way to the veterinarian, travel with the windows open and the air conditioner on.
Until you can get to the veterinarian, be sure to:
- Remove the dog from the hot environment immediately.
- Let your dog drink as much cool water as they want without forcing them to drink.
- Place cool (not cold) wet towels on your dog's stomach and back.
Do not give a dog aspirin to lower their temperature as this can lead to other problems.
How will the veterinarian treat my dog's heatstroke?
With cases of heatstroke in dogs, treatment will include intravenous fluid therapy to replace fluids and minerals.
Your veterinarian will also monitor your dog for secondary complications such as kidney failure, development of neurologic symptoms, abnormal clotting, changes in blood pressure, and electrolytes abnormalities.
How can I prevent my dog from developing heatstroke?
As a pet owner, it is important to be aware of the outside temperature and take appropriate measures to prevent heatstroke, especially during hot and humid conditions.
When outdoors, always make sure your dog is in a well-ventilated area with access to plenty of water and shade.
If your dog travels in a crate while in the car, ensure it has good ventilation and keep the air conditioning on if possible. Never leave a dog unattended in a car. Even in the shade, the internal temperature of a car can spike to dangerous levels and quickly cause heatstroke.Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.