Heat stroke in dogs

As spring brings on the warmer weather we are outside playing with our dogs more. Being prepared is key to the health and happiness of your dogs.

Being prepared before you go out hiking, to the dog park, throwing the ball in your own backyard on a hot day and knowing the signs of heat exhaustion can save your dogs life. Dogs do not regulate their playtime so it’s our responsibility to monitor their play. Their normal body temperature is between 101 and 102 and they can overheat quickly, way before we notice the signs. It can be dangerous, even fatal, for dogs. Here are some simple things that you can do to protect your dog from the dangers of heat exhaustion.

Preventing Heat Exhaustion

In most cases, heat exhaustion is preventable.

Always keep a bottle of water in your car and bring water with you on your walks or hikes, enough for both of you. Dog’s won’t regulate themselves so it is our duty to know these signs to ensure their safety.

Never leave your dog untended in your car, even if the temperature is mild. In a locked car the temperature can climb rapidly to 110 or more. A cracked window will not prevent your dog from overheating and suffering heat stroke. You may have parked in the shade when you left your dog yet the sun shifts and an unexpected delay could endanger your dog’s life!

Dog’s should have access to shade and fresh water while outdoors. If the temperature is very warm, outdoor access should be limited to short periods of time and the dog should be housed indoors.

If your dog is working in warm weather be prepared to offer him water at regular intervals and understand that he may drink more water than usual under these circumstances.
Use caution with dogs that are obese, have respiratory difficulties, are geriatric or are otherwise unhealthy. These dogs may be more prone to heat exhaustion than other dogs.
In addition, short-nosed breeds such as Pugs, Boxers and Bull Dogs, etc are at higher risk of heat exhaustion that other dogs.

Recognize the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Dogs suffering from heat stroke will normally exhibit any or all of the following:

  • Panting with tongue becoming larger and thicker often times unable to fit in the mouth.
  • Restlessness
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excess salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

As the symptoms progress and go unnoticed, the dog’s body temperature increases and signs become even more serious.

  •  Weakness
  •  Staggering
  • Gasping
  • Tongue and gum color may become brick red, then purple or blue (cyanosis)
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Treatment of Heat Exhaustion

If you believe your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion, seek veterinary care immediately. When they are at this stage they will often times refuse water for drinking however it’s important to begin to cool their body down by putting water directly on them and on their feet. Don’t use cold water as it can worsen the situation.

Spring has sprung so here’s to wishing you happy and safe tails on trails.