Heatstroke in dogs is a serious, potentially fatal condition that pet owners should watch for on warm weather days. Today, our Memphis vets define heatstroke, share recommendations on how to prevent it and give instructions on what to do if you suspect your dog is in danger.
What is Heatstroke in Dogs?
If you live in a warm weather climate or your dog spends time outside on hot days, heatstroke (also referred to as heat exhaustion) is a serious — potentially fatal — danger for dogs. When a dog's body temperature is above a normal range (101.5°F), hyperthermia (fever) can occur.
Heatstroke is a form of hyperthermia and occurs when the heat-dissipating mechanisms in your dog's body are overwhelmed by excessive heat. If your pooch's body temperature rises past 104°F, they enter the danger zone. If body temperature reaches above 105°F, this indicates heatstroke.
That's why we need to keep our dogs as cool and comfortable as possible during the summer months.
Causes of Heatstroke in Dogs
A vehicle's temperature can quickly exceed dangerous levels (even when the inside of our vehicles do not seem "that hot" to us, remember that your dog has a fur coat on). Leave the dog at home while you shop.
A lack of access to shade and water in your backyard or at the beach can also become a problem. Water and shade are essential on warm weather days, particularly for senior dogs and dogs with obesity or other medical conditions.
Heatstroke in Dogs: Symptoms to Watch For
During the spring and summer months and in hot weather, watch carefully for signs of heatstroke in any dogs in your care, including any combination of these symptoms:
- Excessive panting
- Mental flatness or "dullness"
- Signs of discomfort
- Unable or unwilling to move (or uncoordinated movement)
- Red gums
- Collapsing or loss of consciousness
If your pup is displaying any of the heatstroke symptoms listed above, it's time to take action.
Fortunately, heatstroke symptoms in dogs can be reversed if detected early. If you notice your pup displaying any symptoms listed above, immediately take them to a cooler place with good air circulation. If symptoms do not improve quickly and you are not able to take your dog’s temperature, contact your vet or Animal Emergency Center immediately for advice .
Take your dog’s temperature if you have access to a rectal thermometer. If their temperature is above 104°F, this qualifies as an emergency and your dog will need to see a vet. If this temperature is above 105°F, immediately hose or sponge your dog’s body with cool (not cold) water. Pay special attention to their stomach. A fan may also be useful. Contact our emergency animal hospital for further instructions.
Heatstroke is a very serious condition and a veterinary medical emergency. Take your dog to a vet right away whether you are able to reduce their temperature or not.
How to Help Prevent Your Dog From Getting Heatstroke
To help prevent your pooch from getting heatstroke, be very cautious about how much time your dog spends outside or in the sun during the summer. Do not expose your dog to heat and humidity - their bodies (especially those with short faces) are unable to handle it.
NEVER leave your dog in a car with closed windows - even if you park in the shade. Provide your pooch with lots of shade to retreat to and easy access to cool water. A well-ventilated dog crate or specially designed seat belt for dogs may also work well.
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.