When the temperature rises, your dog's health is jeopardized by heatstroke. Our San Gabriel urgent care vets explain the signs of this potentially fatal condition, as well as what to do if you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, in today's post.
Heatstroke in Dogs
Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature rises due to environmental factors. The normal body temperature of your dog should be between 99 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dog's body temperature rises above 105°F, he or she should see a veterinarian right away. Heatstroke is a deadly condition that can result in death.
Why Dogs Are Susceptible to Heatstroke
When we get hot, we start sweating, which helps to cool us down. Dogs are unable to sweat, so they cool themselves by panting. If panting isn't enough to keep them cool, their body temperature may rise even higher, resulting in heatstroke.
Any breed or size of dog can suffer from heatstroke but dogs with thick fur, short noses, or those suffering from underlying medical conditions tend to be more susceptible to this condition.
The most common causes of heatstroke in dogs include:
- Leaving a dog in a car on a hot or sunny day
- Forgetting to provide adequate water for your pet
- Lack of sufficient shade in pet's outdoor play area
Heatstroke Symptoms in Dogs
The most obvious sign of heatstroke in dogs is excessive panting. Panting, however, is not the only sign of heat exhaustion in dogs. Dog owners should be aware of the following signs of heatstroke in dogs:
- Reddened gums
- Mental dullness
- Loss of consciousness
- Uncoordinated movement
How to Help a Dog With Heatstroke
Heatstroke is an extremely serious condition and symptoms should always be treated as an emergency! Heatstroke in dogs can lead to life-threatening issues such as abnormal blood clotting, swelling of the brain, kidney failure, and intestinal bleeding.
If your dog is displaying signs of heatstroke head to your primary care veterinarian, or the nearest animal emergency hospital right away. While traveling to the vet's office, keep the windows open or the air conditioner on full to help cool your pet.
If you can't get to a vet's office right away, take your dog out of the hot environment right away and let him drink as much cool water as he wants without forcing him to. You can also help your dog's body temperature by covering them with a towel soaked in cool (not cold) water.
Treatment For Heatstroke in Dogs
The veterinary team's first step in dog heatstroke treatment is to safely lower your dog's body temperature. Pour cool water over your dog's head, body, and feet, or cover those areas with cool wet cloths. In some cases, rubbing alcohol can be applied to your dog's footpads to help dilate pores and increase perspiration. Heatstroke in dogs may be treated with intravenous fluids, mild sedation, and low-concentration oxygen therapy.
As well as treating the immediate symptoms of heatstroke, your vet will also monitor your dog will for secondary complications such as changes in blood pressure, electrolyte abnormalities, kidney failure, development of neurologic symptoms, and abnormal clotting.
How To Prevent Your Pooch From Developing Heatstroke
When it comes to the health and well-being of your four-legged friend, preventing heatstroke from ever happening is key. Prevent heatstroke in dogs by following the tips below:
- Never leave a dog alone in a car. Even if you park in the shade and leave the windows cracked the temperature in your car could skyrocket! Studies have shown that even on cooler days, the temperature inside a car can rise by as much as 40 degrees in as little as one hour
- Learn more about your dog's heatstroke risk and take extra precautions with high-risk dogs. Heatstroke affects dogs with flat or 'squished' faces more than dogs with longer noses. Among the endangered breeds are bulldogs, Boston terriers, Boxers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Shih Tzus, and mastiffs.
- Dogs that are obese or those that have an underlying heart condition may be particularly susceptible to heatstroke.
- If your dog spends a lot of time outside in the heat, make sure he has plenty of water and shade. A baby pool for a dog left outside may be beneficial, as they can cool off by jumping in! Cooling vests for dogs are also available for those who spend a lot of time outside in the heat.
- Working dogs can become very focused on their job and forget to rest. Enforce rest breaks for your working dog to allow your pup's body to cool down (even if they don't want to).
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.