Dealing with Heatstroke in Dogs

We are constantly reminded that on hot summer days we should stay hydrated. We as humans are told to bring water bottles to sip on during a walk and to be aware of what our bodies are telling us. You, however, can’t forget your furry little pal, your dog, who accompanies you on all of those outdoor excursions. Your dog might not be able to talk to you, but he can still tell you when he isn’t feeling well. There are many causes of heatstroke in dogs and you need to be aware of the symptoms that he will exhibit. Also, if left untreated, your little pooch can experience severe consequences so the best remedy is always prevention. There are even some products that you can use to make sure that your dog is always well-hydrated and cool.

What is Heatstroke?

Heatstroke is when the body’s normal cooling processes are not sufficient to keep your body in a safe range. One of the cooling processes that human bodies have is sweating. Our skin excretes moisture which evaporates and helps keep our bodies cool. Dogs, however, do not have this cooling process. Instead, as you probably already know, they pant. Heatstroke can occur when this cooling process is not sufficient.

What Causes Heatstroke?

There are many ways that your dog’s body can become overheated. The most obvious reason is hot temperatures. Like humans, too much exposure to heat can be detrimental to a dog’s body. One common way that a dog can be exposed to too much heat is if he is left unattended in a car on a hot day. Don’t leave your dog alone in the car when the temperatures begin to rise. Another factor in your dog’s body temperature is whether or not he is properly hydrated and the extent to which he has been moving. If he has been playing or running and the temperatures are high you will need to check him to make sure he is still doing well. Also, be aware, dogs with short noses, thick coats, or other medical problems tend to be more prone to heatstroke.

Dog in car

What Are the Symptoms of Heatstroke?

Panting

As mentioned before, panting is one of your dog’s first bodily cooling processes. You know what this looks like. His tongue sticks out, his mouth is wide open and he makes a heavy breathing sound.

Drooling

If your dog is becoming too hot he might start to drool more than usual.

Lethargy

Your dog will begin to become lethargic and will become less likely to want to play.

Drowsiness

He might begin to look sleepy and might even want to lie down for a nap.

Frequent Resting

If you are on a walk, he might insist on taking frequent breaks.

Rapid Pulse

As his body temperature continues to rise he will begin to experience more severe bodily symptoms. such as a rapid pulse.

Lack of coordination

Lack of coordination such as difficulty walking or standing are serious signs that your dog might be experiencing heatstroke.

Anxiety

Your dog might begin to exhibit signs of anxiety such as whining.

Collapsing

This is a very severe sign of heatstroke in dogs.

Vomiting

Your dog might begin to vomit as his body begins to shut down.

What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Has Heatstroke?

1. Move Him to a Cool, Shaded Area

If you are near any buildings such as a store explain the situation to the store clerks and ask if there is an area where they will allow your dog to rest and cool off. If you are on a walk where there are no cool buildings available or if the store will not allow you to go inside with your dog, find the shade of a tree or building.

2. Douse Your Dog with Cool Water, Wet Towels, or Fan Until Breathing Returns to Normal.

Cool water or wet towels is preferable to cold water. A rapid and drastic change in temperature could actually be harmful. If you are on a walk you should always have plenty of water with you. If you do happen to run out and are near a store then ask if you can have some tap water.

3. If Severe, Run Cool (Not Cold) Water in a Bathtub.

The preference for cool over cold water applies here as well. You want to lower his body temperature but water that is too cold could send him into shock.

4. Offer Your Dog Water to Drink.

He will most likely be thirsty anyways and cooling him from the inside to outside is an important step as well.

5.Take Him to the Vet as Soon as Possible.

If you are unsure of whether or not you dog is healthy or still suffering from dehydration and overheat take him to the veterinarian as soon as you can.

What Will Happen to My Dog If He is Not Treated?

If left untreated, your dog might experience some of the more serious symptoms listed above such as collapsing and vomiting. Continued lack of treatment will result in unresponsiveness, seizures, and ultimately death. It is best to make sure your dog receives treatment before he begins to exhibit these more serious signs.

How Do I Prevent My Dog From Getting Heatstroke?

Avoid Hot and Humid Conditions

If it is a particularly hot day consider staying indoors to avoid the heat. Or, if your dog really needs to burn off some energy, consider allowing him outside to play for a short time and monitor him. That way, when he needs to go back inside to cool off you are already where you need to be.

Do Not Leave Your Dog in the Car

Even on days when the temperature is only moderately warm the internal temperature of your car can become much warmer in a matter of just ten minutes. Cracking the windows is also not enough to keep the car cool. The best practice is to never leave your dog alone in the car.

Keep Your Dog in Well-Ventilated, Shady Places.

If you are outside with your dog or are in a building that doesn’t have air conditioning make sure the area is well-ventilated. Never leave your dog in a place that doesn’t have proper airflow or is directly under the sun.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Plenty of water is just as important for your dog as it is for you. Always have a bowl of fresh water available for him and if you are on a walk make sure you have enough for yourself and for him. Also, bring something along so that he has a way to drink it.

Products to help your dog in hot weather

There are a few products that you can try to keep Rover safe and healthy. One product is Easyology Premium Pet Cooling Pad and the other is the PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain.

Easyology Premium Pet Cold Gel Pad


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There a few definite benefits to having the Easyology Pet Cooling Pad. If your house or apartment is a little warm, this pad will keep your dog cool as he sits or lays on it. It’s also made of a material that will clean up easily and it is about the right size for small to medium size dogs. It will fit on top of your couch or in a dog bed. There are, however, a couple of negatives. While it still might be better than nothing, it doesn’t appear as though it will accommodate larger dogs such as a Labrador or larger. It’s also not something that you will want to take with you on a walk due to its bulk.

PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain


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One benefit of the Drinkwell Pet Fountain is that it circulates the water through filters so the water stays cleaner than it would if it stagnated in a traditional water bowl. Another benefit is that it holds 1.3 gallons of water so you won’t need to worry about your dog running out of water as much. One possible disadvantage is that it will require more maintenance than a standard water bowl and, because of the moving parts, there is the possibility that it will break.

In Conclusion

Heatstroke in dogs is definitely preventable if you pay attention to what your dog’s behavior is telling you and if you take a few steps to ensure that your dog is receiving the water and cool environment that he needs.

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