Summertime is a fun time for both dogs and humans – but as the temperatures rise, your pets’ needs may also change. While it’s true that a dog can have heat stroke, it’s very preventable. Here are some of the signs of a heat stroke in dogs, what to do if you see those signs, and how to prevent it from happening.
How Might A Dog Heat Stroke Happen?
Heatstroke can occur due to an excessively elevated body temperature, a condition also known as hyperthermia. When a dog’s body gets above 103°F, that’s considered to be excessive. If a dog’s body temperature gets higher than 106°F, and the dog hasn’t had any kind of illness, that’s considered to be a heat stroke.1
The most common causes of heat stroke in dogs are completely preventable. These include:
- Leaving a dog locked in a hot car.
- Exercising a dog vigorously in hot temperatures.
- Leaving a dog outside on a hot day without adequate shade or access to water.
Also, dogs with flat faces, such as pugs, boxers, and bulldogs, may be especially susceptible to heat stroke.2
How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Having A Heat Stroke?
So, yes, heat stroke is obviously serious. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep your pooch locked inside during the hot summer months. You just need to take the proper precautions and know how to spot the warning signs of a heat stroke.
These are some of the signs that your dog may be in danger of having a heat stroke.
- Their eyes have a glazed over appearance.
- They’re drooling excessively.
- They stagger, stumble, or collapse.
- They’re unresponsive, or seem to not be in their usual frame of mind.
- They have seizures.
- You notice small, pinpoint-type bruises on the belly or inside the ears.
- You see bruising on the gums.3
What Actions Can I Take If My Dog Is Having A Heat Stroke?
If you suspect that your dog is suffering due to heat – or worse yet, showing the signs of heat stroke – acting quickly is key.
First, cool the dog off as much as possible. If you’re on a walk, stop immediately, and get your dog to a cooling, shaded area that is well ventilated. Use cool water – NOT cold water (it can lead to shock) – and apply it all over their body. Make sure you put plenty of water on their belly. Once you’ve done this, get to your vet immediately.4,5
What Do I Need To Do To Keep My Dog From Having A Heat Stroke?
Again, there’s no need to keep from having fun with your beloved companion – as long as you take precautions. Follow these tips to help keep your pup from having any heat-related issues.
Think of any warm day – one where the temperature is supposed to reach 80°F or higher – as one that could bring the risk for heat stroke. The same goes for very humid days, even if the temperature doesn’t get that high.
- When your pet has to be outside on a warm or hot day, make sure they’re always supervised. If you have to be gone for several hours, keep your dog inside in the air conditioning.
- Always make sure your pup has access to shade and clean, fresh water, especially when they’re outside.
- When you take your dog for a walk or a run, try to do it early in the morning or later in the evening, when it’s cooler.
- If you have a dog with a flat face (a brachycephalic breed such as a pug, a boxer, or a bulldog), or your dog is obese or elderly, keep them inside when the weather gets really hot. Only take them outside so they can go to the bathroom.
- Never leave your dog in a parked car – even for a short period of time.6
What Can The Vet Do To Help A Dog With Heat Stroke?
Thankfully, there are a lot of tools your vet will have at their disposal if your dog ever suffers a heat stroke. Different veterinarians will take different approaches, but here are a few of the ways they help dogs suffering from this condition.
- Oxygen – If a dog is having problems breathing, a vet will check their airway and often give oxygen if necessary.
- Medications – There’s also a chance your dog may receive medications in order to help reduce nausea and any other stomach-related issues that might arise.
- Fluids – Your vet may give your dog intravenous fluids in order to help increase blood flow and help cool the body.7,8,9
How Does Dehydration Occur In Dogs?
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in. Just like humans, dogs need water for a lot of reasons. It helps lubricate the joints, protect internal organs, regulate body temperature, and much more.10
Just like heat stroke in dogs, there are ways you can tell if your pup is dehydrated. These include the following:
- Sunken eyes
- Reduction in skin elasticity11
Preventing Dehydration In Dogs
Here are some ways to potentially help prevent dog dehydration.
- Remember to clean your dog’s water bowl every time you fill it. This helps prevent the buildup of potentially harmful bacteria.
- A dog needs about an ounce of water every day for each pound of body weight.
- If your vet says it’s okay to do so, consider giving your dog some wet food, or adding water to their dry food to help keep them hydrated.12
Keep Cool, But Be Ready To Act
While heat stroke in dogs is definitely serious, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should automatically assume the worst if it happens to your pet. There’s a very good chance your dog will be able to recover. Just remember, you can easily avoid this situation by following a few simple tips. It’s always better to be safe than sorry – especially when it comes to our furry family members.
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