Heatstroke in Dogs

Metro Detroit will face excessive heat in the next few days. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning effective at noon today (July 18) to 8 p.m. Saturday. Pet owners should be extra careful with their dogs and outdoor activities.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises to a level that causes severe changes in major organs often resulting in death.

Heat stroke occurs when the dog’s ability to reduce its body temperature is overwhelmed by factors increasing the temperature.  Some of these factors can be:

  1. High environmental temperature such as high heat and humidity
  2. Excessive exercise especially during warm weather
  3. Being in a confined area without ventilation such as a parked car or cage with dryer during grooming

Dogs most at risk are those

  1. Dogs with a history of heat stroke
  2. Dogs with pushed in faces (brachycephalic) such as pugs, bulldogs, Boston terries etc.
  3. Dogs with heavy thick coats
  4. Overweight dogs
  5. The very young and the very old

Signs of heat stroke can include

  1. Excessive drooling
  2. Panting
  3. Bright red gums and tongue
  4. Vomiting
  5. Weakness (like being drunk)
  6. Collapse
  7. Bloody diarrhea

Dogs that develop heatstroke are more likely to survive if the owner can start the cooling immediately. Recommendations are that if heatstroke is suspected to move the dog immediately to a cooler environment like air conditioning or shade, offer water and start cooling by applying cool or tepid water to the dog’s body (Cold water and ice are not recommended) and immediately take the dog to a vet.  The higher the temperature and the longer the dog is overheated, the less chance to survive.

Prevention of heatstroke is the key

  1. Avoid having dogs out in the hottest time of the day and especially avoid strenuous exercise
  2. Never leave a dog in a parked car
  3. Always provide shade and continuous water to dogs that must be outside

Know the signs of heatstroke and if you suspect it, start cooling measures immediately and take the dog to the vet without any delay.

Photo credit: one&All