The weather is glorious and It’s time to be aware of the risk of canine heatstroke, here’s how.

Dogs can easily overheat when left in cars, or in hot weather when playing or out for a walk. Leaving a dog in a car is ALWAYS very dangerous. Even on a winter’s day with sun, the inside of a closed car can quickly become like a greenhouse and become life threatening within minutes. Dogs cannot tolerate high temperatures as well as humans. They have a fur coat, and only have sweat glands on their feet and nose, relying on panting to lose heat.

Heatstroke leads to significant fluid loss and an abnormally high body temperature which can cause problems such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, and abnormal clotting of blood. It is a medical emergency and requires immediate veterinary care.

Brachycephalic breeds (short noses) and those suffering from medical conditions such as laryngeal paralysis and obesity are more at risk of getting heatstroke. In addition, dogs with thicker fur may not be able to cope as well with warm temperatures. Even fit and healthy dogs can overheat. Dogs that enjoy constant exercise and playtime, should be closely monitored for signs of overheating on hot days.

Symptoms Of Canine Heatstroke

The signs of heat stroke can appear very quickly. Detecting the heatstroke early and treating it promptly is essential for the dog to make a recovery. It is an emergency that requires immediate veterinary care. Sometimes by the time a dog is exhibiting symptoms of heatstroke, it’s often too late to save them.

Symptoms include:

  • Fast, heavy panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Signs of agitation- barking, whining, restlessness
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dark red-coloured gums or tongue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Elevated body temperature (104ºF / 42c )
  • Staggering, weakness
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

Emergency Heatstroke Care

  • Take the dog to a cool, shaded place immediately.
  • Immerse the dog in cool (but not very cold) water, or wrap him in cold, soaked towels and continue to pour cold water on top.
  • Take your dog’s temperature and call your veterinarian.
  • Offer him cool water to drink.
  • Massage his limbs to encourage circulation.
  • Go to a veterinary clinic immediately.

Preventing Heatstroke

  • Do not take your dog for a walk in the heat of the day. Early in the morning or later in the evening is better.
  • On hot days reduce outdoor exercise, making sure they don’t do too much and have plenty of breaks.
  • Make sure the dog always has easy access to a cool shaded place and a fresh bowl of clean water.
  • Always take water on a walk.
  • Add ice cubes to the water bowl on hot days.
  • Spray your dog with cold water or hose them down, they usually love it! If your dog likes swimming take them for a swim in a safe place.
  • Never leave a dog in a suntrap including a parked car, conservatory, greenhouse or tent.
  • Trim your dog’s coat in the summer if it is very heavy and long.

It’s far better to keep your dog’s body temperature low that try to lower it at the onset of heatstroke.

This post is a based on a small area of our popular UKRS Accredited Canine First Aid Certificate course.. 

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  1. Mary Nielsen

    Inexperienced dog owners may not notice these symptoms at first so I am glad people are writting articles about it.

    Another thing I would suggest is, if possible to keep your dog indoors during the summer because even if they are in shade in the backyard they can still get very hot.

    Other than that, excellent tips! 🙂


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