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Heatstroke in Dogs

Heatstroke in dogs is a serious condition that is sometimes fatal. However, it is preventable. Here, our Upland vets share symptoms to watch for an actions to take if you believe your dog is suffering from this condition. We also offer tips on prevention.

Heatstroke in Dogs

Warmer weather is coming! As you head outdoors to enjoy the sun with your dog in the next while, keep in mind that heatstroke (also sometimes called heat exhaustion) is a serious — and potentially fatal — ever-present danger. Hyperthermia (fever) can occur when a dog's body temperature rises above a normal range (101.5°F).

Heatstroke is a type of hyperthermia that happens when heat overwhelms a dog's heat-dissipating mechanisms. When body temperature surpasses 104°F, he enters a danger zone. This can indicate heatstroke if body temperature is elevated above 105°F. 

This is why we need to keep our dogs as cool and comfortable as possible throughout the summer. 

What causes heatstroke in dogs?

The dog days of summer bring dangerously high temperatures for our pets. The temperature inside your vehicle can easily escalate past dangerous levels (even when the interior of your vehicle does not seem "that hot" to you, remember that your dog is always wearing a fur coat). Leave your dog at home while you run errands. 

Your dog's breed can also contribute to their risk of heatstroke; short-nosed, flat-faced pups tend to be more susceptible to breathing issues. In addition, thick coats can quickly grow uncomfortable as the mercury rises. Each dog (even those that cherish their time to play outside) needs supervision, especially on warm summer days. 

What are symptoms of heatstroke in dogs?

Watch your four-legged friend closely during the summer. Signs of heatstroke in dogs can include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Red gums
  • Mental flatness or "dullness"
  • Unable or unwilling to move (or uncoordinated movement)
  • Signs of discomfort
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Collapsing or losing consciousness 

What should I do if I suspect my dog is suffering from heatstroke?

Fortunately, heatstroke in dogs can be reversed if symptoms are detected early. If you notice your pup displaying any symptoms listed above, immediately take him to a cooler place with good air circulation. If your dog does not improve quickly and you are unable to take his temperature, contact your vet immediately for advice. 

Take your dog’s temperature if you have access to a rectal thermometer. If his temperature is less than 105°F, this qualifies as an emergency and your dog will need to see a vet. If this temperature is above 105°F, hose or sponge your dog’s body with cool (not cold) water. Pay special attention to his stomach. A fan may also be useful.

After a few minutes, retake his temperature until it gets down to 103°F. Do not reduce the temperature below 103°F, as this can also lead to problems. Take your dog to a veterinarian immediately whether you are able to reduce his temperature or not.

How can I prevent heatstroke?

Be very cautious about how much time your furry friend spends outside or in the sun during the summer. Do not expose your dog to heat and humidity - their bodies (especially those with short faces) are unable to handle it.

NEVER leave your dog in a car with closed windows - even if you park in the shade. Provide your pooch with lots of shade to retreat to and easy access to cool water. A well-ventilated dog crate or specially designed seat belt for dogs may also work well.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to diagnose your pet's condition accurately.

Do you suspect your dog may be suffering from heatstroke? Contact our Upland vets right away for 24/7 emergency veterinary care.

New Patients Welcome

Inland Valley Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced veterinarians care passionately about the health and well-being of Upland companion animals. Get in touch today to book your cat or dog's first appointment.

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