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Heatstroke in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes & What to Do

Heatstroke in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes & What to Do

As we enjoy the summer months, it's important to be aware of the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs. Here, our Waxhaw vets share a list of symptoms for pet parents to watch for. We also list actions to take if you suspect your dog is suffering from the condition. Plus: tips on prevention.

What is heatstroke in dogs? 

As we enjoy warm weather days, it's important to keep our dogs in mind and ensure their health doesn't become endangered in the heat. Heatstroke (also known as heat exhaustion is a serious condition that can potentially turn fatal for dogs. When a dog's body temperature rises above its normal range (101.5°F), hyperthermia (fever) can happen. 

Hyperthermia is a form of heatstroke and it occur when your dog's heat-dissipating mechanisms are overwhelmed by excessive heat. If body temperature gets past 104°F, he will enter the danger zone. A temperature above 105°F indicates heatstroke. 

This is why we need to keep our dogs as cool and comfortable as possible throughout the summer months. 

What are signs of heatstroke in dogs?

Watch your furry friend closely during spring and summer. Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs include: 

  • Excessive panting 
  • Mental flatness or "dullness" 
  • Signs of discomfort 
  • Unwilling or unable to move (or uncoordinated movement 
  • Drooling 
  • Red gums 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Collapsing or losing consciousness

What should I do if my dog is suffering from heatstroke?

Fortunately, heatstroke in dogs can be reversed if detected early. If you notice your pup displaying any symptoms listed above, immediately take him 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 immediately for advice. 

Take your dog’s temperature if you have access to a rectal thermometer. If his temperature is less than 105°F, this qualifies as an emergency and your dog will need to see a vet. If this temperature is above 105°F, hose or sponge your dog’s body with cool (not cold) water. Pay special attention to his stomach. A fan may also be useful.

After a few minutes, retake his temperature until it gets down to 103°F. Do not reduce the temperature below 103°F, as this can also lead to problems. Take your dog to a veterinarian immediately whether you are able to reduce his temperature or not.

How can I prevent heatstroke?

Be very cautious about how much time your furry friend 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.

Heatstroke can be dangerous for dogs. If you suspect your pup may be suffering from heatstroke be sure to contact us or your nearest after-hours veterinary hospital immediately.

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