Along with the heat of summer comes an increase in the risk of heatstroke in dogs. Here, our Plains vets list some of the symptoms of this dangerous, and possibly even deadly, condition and what you should do if you suspect that your dog is suffering from it.
What is heatstroke?
When humans get hot, they sweat in order to cool their bodies down, while dogs eliminate heat from their bodies by panting. If your dog becomes hot enough that panting isn't enough to effectively cool themselves down, their body temperature may continue to rise, resulting in heatstroke. In dogs, heatstroke is very serious and can become fatal quite quickly if it isn't promptly identified and treated.
What causes heatstroke in dogs?
Heatstroke can be caused by any hot environment, but the most common cause is a careless action by a pet parent. Leaving your dog in a car on a hot day, or forgetting to provide adequate water and shade for your pet when they are outdoors can easily lead to heatstroke in your dog.
Any size of dog or breed can suffer from heatstroke, but dogs with thick fur, short noses and those suffering from underlying medical conditions will tend to be more susceptible to the condition. It's important to remember, however, that it isn't only neglected dogs that end up in the emergency hospital with heatstroke. Any dog enjoying exercising and playing outside should be monitored closely for symptoms of heatstroke.
What are the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs?
If your pup is suffering from the effects of heatstroke, the most obvious symptom will be excessive panting. However, other symptoms of heatstroke that pet owners should be aware of can include reddened gums, vomiting, drooling, mental dullness, diarrhea, uncoordinated movement, loss of consciousness and collapse.
What should I do if I think my dog has heatstroke?
Heatstroke symptoms in dogs should always be treated as an emergency since this condition can lead to serious medical issues such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and abnormal blood clotting.
Contact Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital for emergency service if your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, and let us know you are on your way. While travelling to the vet's office, keep your vehicle as cold as possible with the windows open or the air conditioner on full.
Until you are able to get your pet to the vet, bring your dog out of the heat as soon as possible. Let them drink as much cool water as they want without forcing them to drink and help them to cool down by placing a ctowel soaked in cool water over them.
How will the vet treat my dog's heatstroke?
The safe reduction of your dog's body temperature will be your vet's focus. Cool water (not cold) may be poured over your dog's head, body, and feet, or cool wet cloths may be applied. In some cases rubbing alcohol may be applied to your dog's footpads in order to help dilate pores and increase perspiration. Treatment for dogs with heatstroke may also include intravenous fluids, mild sedation and low-concentration oxygen therapy.
Beyond treating immediate symptoms of heatstroke, our vets will treat your dog while also monitoring them for secondary complications like kidney failure, electrolyte abnormalities, neurological symptoms and changes in blood pressure.
How can I prevent my dog from developing heatstroke?
In order to prevent your dog from experiencing heatstroke, it is essential to be aware of the outside temperature whenever your dog goes out. Provide your dog with a space that is well-ventilated and has access to plenty of clean water and shade. If your dog joins you on a car journey, ensure that your dog's crate has good ventilation, and never ever leave your dog in a car with the windows closed.