The Basics Every Pet Parent Should Know About Heat Stroke In Dogs
Before the temperature goes up, know the symptoms and treatment of heat stroke, and what you can do to prevent it.
Every summer, we all hear heart-breaking stories of dogs being left in cars. Sometimes, the result is deadly. Even though you may not think it's too bad out, in a hot car, the temperature can go up 20°F in 10 minutes. To your dog, it's worse than wearing a fur coat in a sauna. But did you know that dogs can suffer from heat stoke anywhere in the summer? You could be taking a walk, sitting out in the backyard or on the beach—the heat affects your dog different than it does for a person. Don’t risk your dog’s well-being this summer—here's what to look for, how to prevent and how to treat heat stroke in dogs.
What to Look For:
Dogs exhibit certain signs and symptoms when heat stroke starts to set in—you just have to know what to look for. It's important to remember that dogs' sweat glands are located in their feet, so they can't cool themselves down by sweating. Yes, dogs pant to cool themselves down, but when the temperature of the air they're breathing is not much cooler than their body temperature, panting doesn't help them out at all.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke:
Some of the most common signs of heat stroke in dogs include:
Increased heart rate
Pale or gray gums
Weakness or dizziness
At first signs of heat stroke, your dog will start to pant heavily. In minutes, his tongue and mucous membranes in the mouth will turn bright red and his saliva will thicken (this can cause your dog to vomit). It won't take long before his body temperature rises, making his body unstable and resulting in shock. In the final stages of heat stroke, his lips and gums may turn gray, followed by collapse, seizure, coma, and death.
Emergency Treatment for Heat Stroke
Even if you might suspect that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, jump into action immediately! First, you need to get your dog out of the heat and into an air-conditioned building or somewhere that has a source of cool air. Next, take your dog’s rectal temperature and repeat every 10 minutes. If your dog’s temperature is below 104°F, the change of scenery to a cool building may be enough to prevent heat stroke from getting worse. If his temperature is above 104°F, more drastic measures need to be taken—place your dog in a tub of cool water or spray him with a hose.
If you can't put your dog in a tub, try putting him in front of an electric fan and applying cold packs to the groin, as well as wiping his paws with cool water. Once your dog’s temperature drops below 104°F, stop the cooling treatments and dry him off. If you continue with these drastic cooling processes, your dog is in danger of suffering from shock or hypothermia.
And, of course, after this happens to your dog and you get the situation under control, you need to get him to a vet for a follow-up to be sure no severe damage has been done.
Tips for Prevention
You can prevent heat stroke all together by taking a few simple precautions with your dog. Be sure to take breaks from the summer sun by heading inside or into the shade, and always have plenty of fresh water. When it's really hot outside, avoid vigorous exercise and keep an eye out for signs of overheating, so you can cool down indoors or take a dip in the pool. And just in case you haven't heard—never leave you dog in the car, even for a short period of time.
Heat stroke is so easy to prevent, there's no reason why you can't implement these simple steps no matter where you are. After all, you want to enjoy many more summers with your furry BFF!
Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.