Heatstroke in Dogs

Summer is in full force, and with the blazing temperatures and high humidity your dogs are more at risk of developing heatstroke. Summer is not the time to take your dog with you when you run errands so please leave him at home in cool shelter with plenty of water. No pet should be left inside a vehicle during the summer – even with all of the windows rolled down. The temperature inside a vehicle during the summer (even if the temperature is only in the 70's) can rise quickly within a matter of minutes and can easily cause heatstroke.

Heatstroke can cause blood-clotting abnormalities, brain swelling, seizures, kidney failure, shock, coma and death. The adverse conditions might not appear right away, so please take the signs seriously; and more importantly, take precautions.

Signs of Heatstroke in Your Dog 

  • Excessive Panting (*Note: Dogs pant to cool down but when they pant excessively, this is the time to worry).
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark Red Gums
  • Walking Slowly or Differently than Usual
  • Extreme Lethargy
  • Odd Behavior
  • Seizures
  • An Elevated Heart Rate (*Note: a dog's normal heart rate is between 70-160 beats per minute)
  • Collapsing or Becoming Unconscious

Steps To Take If Your Dog Develops Heatstroke

  • Call your veterinarian and go to the closest veterinary hospital as soon as you suspect your dog has heatstroke.
  • Move your dog to an air conditioned area. If you are outside and have no access to air condition, move your dog to a shaded area.
  • Apply water to your dog to lower his temperature back down to 104. Be sure to do this within the first ten minutes and use cool water, not freezing cold water. Start with your dog's neck, legs and paws first before moving onto the rest of the body.

Ways to Water Your Dog

  • Wet a towel (or a piece of clothing if you are outside) and place on your dog as described above.
  • Submerse your dog in a sink, bathtub, or wading pool for a minute at a time.
  • If you are not able to lift your dog, use a garden hose to wet your pet down once the hose water cools off. (*Tip: Remember your hose will be affected by the heat as well, so initially hot water will come out. Let the water run until it becomes cool).

Tips for Walking Your Dog in the Heat

  • Walk your dog in the morning or late at night when the temperatures aren't as high.
  • Carry personal identification with you along with your dog's id.
  • Bring your cell phone. *Make sure your phone is charged.
  • Add your dog's veterinarian's phone number to your cell phone address book. It's also a good idea to have the number of an emergency animal hospital just in case your veterinarian cannot handle the case.

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