Preventing Heat Stroke in Dogs

On a sunny day and when temperatures are above 21 degrees, we know that the temperature in a vehicle can soar to very high levels. So high, that the heat can be intolerable to our dog and us. Even keeping the vehicle in a shaded area, heat can quickly get to your dog and cause many health complications.

Dogs do not sweat as we do, in fact, the only sweat gland your dog has is the pads of their feet. Dogs pant to cool themselves, but this is not enough to keep them cool on hot summer days.

So, if you are out and about this summer with your dog, remember to have fun but keep them cool at the same time.

Here are some signs to watch for with heat stroke:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive panting
  • Increased salivation
  • Bright red tongue
  • Red or purple gums
  • Thick and sticky saliva
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

As heat stroke gets worse, it can cause seizures, coma, cardiac arrest or even death.

If you feel that your pet has heat stroke, it is vital to remove them from the hot area immediately. Take your pet to the closest veterinarian to you. While on the commute, place cool towels on the dog’s back and neck, under their front legs and in the groin area. If possible, increase the air flow around your pet also. Be careful not to use very cold water and air, for it can be counterproductive.

Ways that you can prevent heatstroke:

  • If your pet has a predisposed heart condition, is older, heavier, or even experiencing breathing problems, maybe no activity on hot days would be most appropriate for them. If your pet is healthy, we recommend restricting the amount of exercise they get on these extremely hot days.
  • Access to fresh water at ALL times.
  • Do not leave them in a parked vehicle for any length of time.
  • If outside in the yard or at a park, make sure there are shaded areas to rest in.
  • Do not muzzle your dog.
  • Avoid walks on concrete, asphalt and or even the beach, where heat is reflecting off.
  • Wet your dog down with cool water, allow them to swim to help with body temperature.

By using a little common sense, you can protect your dog from heat stroke, and you and your best friend can have a fun and happy summer.

Written by Clappison Animal Hospital