Dogs are just as susceptible to heat stroke as humans, and this summer more dog owners are taking their furry friends along on outdoor activities. While the great outdoors offers dogs a wealth of opportunities for mental and physical stimulation, it also carries the risk of heat stroke.
Heat stroke is a potentially fatal condition that can affect a dog if subjected to extreme heat and temperatures. Knowing how to prevent heat stroke in dogs can help keep your canine companion safe during the hot summer months.
Prevent Heat Stroke in Dogs
What is heat stroke in dogs?
Heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when a dog’s natural heat-dissipating mechanisms are overwhelmed by extreme heat and are unable to function correctly. When it becomes too hot, dogs use one of two natural cooling mechanisms to keep their internal temperature at a safe level.
The first is by panting, which helps circulate cool air through their bodies. The second is by sweating through their paw pads. However, when the ambient temperature is too high or the humidity is too low, these mechanisms are no longer effective and the dog’s internal temperature begins to rise. If left unchecked, heat stroke can quickly lead to organ damage and death.
What are the signs of heat stroke in dogs?
The signs of heat stroke in dogs can vary depending on how severe the condition is, but there are some common symptoms to look out for.
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Glazed eyes
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Staggering or incoordination
- Rapid pulse
- Concentrated, dark urine
- Cardiac arrest
- Bright red gums
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take immediate action to cool your dog down and get them to a vet as soon as possible.
Which Type of Dog Breeds are Prone to Heat Stroke?
While any dog can suffer from heat stroke, there are certain dog breeds that are more susceptible due to their physical characteristics.
Dogs with short snouts (brachycephalic breeds) have a harder time panting effectively and cooling themselves down. These include popular breeds like pugs, bulldogs, and boxers.
Dogs with thick fur coats are also at a higher risk as they have more trouble dissipating heat. Breeds like the Chow Chow, Akita, and Alaskan Malamute fall into this category.
Overweight or obese dogs are also more likely to suffer from heat stroke because they have difficulty Panting and sweating.
Dogs with health conditions that affect their respiratory or circulatory systems are also at a higher risk. These include dogs with laryngeal paralysis, heart conditions, and those that have had previous heat strokes.
What Happens if My Dog Has Heat Stroke?
If you think your dog may be suffering from heat stroke, it’s important to take immediate action. The first step is to move them out of the heat and into a cool, shaded area. Then, start cooling their body by wetting their fur with cool water and fanning them to help evaporate the water. You can also apply cool, wet towels to their head, neck and chest.
Do not use ice or cold water, as this can cause further stress on their body. Once they are cooled down, take them to the vet immediately as they will need to be monitored for dehydration and organ damage.
What Are Treatments for Heat Stroke in Dogs?
Treatment for heat stroke in dogs will vary depending on how severe the condition is. In mild cases, your dog may just need to be cooled down and monitored for dehydration. However, in more severe cases, they may need to be hospitalized for IV fluids and other treatments.
Immediate Treatments for Heat Stroke in Dogs:
- Get them out of the heat – this is the most important thing you can do. Move them into a cool, shaded area and start cooling their body.
- Wet their fur with cool water – use cool, not cold, water to wet their fur and help evaporate the water. You can also apply cool, wet towels to their head, neck and chest.
- Fan them – this will help evaporate the water on their fur and cool them down.
- Take them to the vet immediately – even if they seem to be doing better, they need to be seen by a vet as soon as possible.
How to prevent heat stroke in dogs
The best way to prevent heat stroke in dogs is to avoid exposing them to extreme heat and temperatures. When it’s hot outside, keep your dog inside in a cool, air-conditioned space. If you must take them out, limit their activity to short walks or play sessions in the shade and make sure they have access to fresh, cool water at all times.
Never leave your dog in a parked car, even for a short period of time. The temperature inside a car can rise quickly, even on a mild day, and dogs are unable to sweat through their paw pads to cool down.
If you’re planning on being outdoors for an extended period of time, make sure to bring along a portable dog bed or mat and shade for your dog to take breaks in. And always keep an eye on your dog for signs of heat stroke.
And, if you have a pet sitter or dog walker, make sure they know how to recognize the signs of heat stroke and what to do if they think your dog is suffering from it.
By following these simple tips, you can help prevent heat stroke in dogs and keep them safe all summer long.
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