Dogs and heatstroke – Signs and Treatment

Aug 14, 2016

How to avoid it and how to treat it…

Did you know… that an animal left in a hot car could die in as little as 20 minutes from heatstroke?

How to avoid your pet getting heatstroke

  • Never leave pets in cars, conservatories or caravans, not even for a short time. This includes cloudy days with the windows open as temperature can rise quickly in a short time.
  • Avoid exercising your pets at the hottest time of the day. Early mornings or evenings are the best times to exercise your pets in summer.
  • Keep exercise of pets to a minimum and make sure they also have access to cool, indoor areas.
  • Owners of flat-faced breeds such as Pugs, Boxers and Bulldogs should be extra careful as these breeds have restricted airways and don’t cope well with heat.
  • A dog wearing a muzzle is at high risk because it may be unable to control its body temperature adequately by panting.
  • Stressed, over-excited or over-exercised dogs can be at risk even if the temperature and humidity is not excessive, particularly if they are in a poorly ventilated environment.

Some signs of heatstroke

Dogs often don’t show any warning signs of heatstroke.  However, as their body temperature increases you might notice:

  • Excessive panting or drooling
  • lethargy, drowsiness or poor coordination
  • Reddened gums
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle tremors or seizures

Any of these symptoms can lead them to quickly collapse or become unconscious.

If not treated as an emergency, this can be fatal !­

If you suspect your pet has heatstroke

The most important thing to remember is that they urgently need to have their body temperature lowered gradually:

  • Move your dog to a shaded or cool area
  • Pour small amounts of room temperature (not cold) water onto your dog’s body.
  • Do not use cold water or ice to cool them down – it may send them into shock.
  • If possible, wrap your dog in wet towels or place your dog in the breeze of a fan.
  • Allow your dog to drink small amounts of cool water.
  • Continue to pour small amounts of room temperature water onto your dog until their breathing starts to settle but never so much that they begin to shiver.
  • Once the dog is cool, take them to the nearest vet immediately, even if you feel they have made a full recovery.