Our Jacksonville vets explain the causes of heatstroke in dogs along with the symptoms to watch for and what to do if you think that your dog has heatstroke.
How Dogs Sweat
While humans sweat to cool down, dogs are unable to sweat and instead rely on panting to eliminate heat from their bodies. When panting isn’t enough, a dog’s body temperature rises, and they can experience heat stroke, which can become fatal if not treated immediately.
Why Dogs Get Heatstroke
Any hot environment can cause heat stroke in dogs. The most common cause is careless action by a pet owner, like leaving a dog in a car or forgetting to provide water and shade when they are outdoors.
Some dogs are more prone to heat stroke than others. Dogs with thick fur, short noses or those suffering from medical conditions are predisposed to heatstroke. Even dogs who enjoy constant exercise and playtime should be closely monitored for symptoms of heat stroke, especially on hot and humid days.
Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs
The most obvious heat stroke symptoms in dogs are excessive panting and signs of discomfort such as drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhea, mental dullness or loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, and collapse.
Heat stroke in dogs can indicate a serious medical problem and cause unseen problems, such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and abnormal clotting of blood. For this reason, immediate veterinary care is highly recommended.
What To Do If Your Dog Has Heatstroke
Call your vet or the nearest emergency animal hospital right away and tell them you are on your way. On the way to the veterinarian, travel with the windows open and the air conditioner on.
Until you can get your animal to the veterinarian, be sure to:
- Remove the dog from the hot environment immediately.
- Do not give the dog aspirin to lower its temperature and can lead to other problems.
- Let your dog drink as much cool water as they want without forcing them to drink.
- Cool your dog off with cold water by placing a soaked towel on their back.
Vet Treatment for Dog Heatstroke
With cases of heatstroke in dogs, treatment will include intravenous fluid therapy to replace fluids and minerals.
Your veterinarian will also monitor your dog for secondary complications such as kidney failure, development of neurologic symptoms, abnormal clotting, changes in blood pressure and electrolytes abnormalities.
Preventing Heatstroke in Dogs
As a pet owner, it is important to be aware of the outside temperature and take appropriate measures to prevent heat stroke, especially during hot and humid conditions.
When outdoors, always make sure your dog is in a well-ventilated area with access to plenty of water and shade.
While traveling in cars, make sure that your dog is kept in crates that has good ventilation, and never leave your dog in a car with the windows closed.
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.