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Heatstroke in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes & What to Do

Heatstroke in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes & What to Do

Heatstroke is a severe and life-threatening condition that can affect dogs. However, it is possible to prevent it. In this article, our vets in Mankato have compiled a list of symptoms to look out for and steps to take if you suspect your dog is experiencing heatstroke. 

Heatstroke in Dogs

As you prepare to enjoy the warm weather months with your furry friend, it's important to remember that heatstroke (also known as heat exhaustion) is a serious and potentially fatal threat to your dog's health. When a dog's body temperature exceeds the normal range of 101.5°F, it can cause hyperthermia or fever. 

Heatstroke is a type of hyperthermia that occurs when a dog's body is unable to dissipate heat effectively, leading to a dangerous increase in body temperature. Once the body temperature goes beyond 104°F, the dog is at risk, and if it reaches above 105°F, it is considered heatstroke. 

Therefore, keeping our dogs cool and comfortable during the summer is crucial.

What causes heatstroke in dogs?

During the hot summer months, the temperature inside your car can rise to dangerous levels, which can be life-threatening for your dog. Even if the temperature inside the car doesn't seem too hot to you, remember that your dog has a fur coat, making it difficult to regulate their body temperature.

So, it's better to leave your furry friend at home when you go out. Also, some dog breeds are more vulnerable to heatstroke, especially those with short noses and thick coats. Therefore, it's important to supervise your dog, especially on hot days.

What are the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs?

During spring and summer, watch your canine companion closely. Heatstroke symptoms in dogs include:

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

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

Heatstroke in dogs can be reversed if detected early. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, immediately move your dog to a cooler place with good air circulation. If symptoms persist or worsen and you are not able to take your dog's temperature, contact your vet immediately for advice.

If you can access a rectal thermometer, take your dog's temperature. If it is less than 105°F, this is an emergency, and your dog will need to see a vet. If your dog's temperature is above 105°F, use cool (not cold) water to hose or sponge his body. Pay special attention to his stomach. A fan can also be helpful.

After a few minutes, retake your dog's temperature until it gets down to 103°F. Do not reduce the temperature below 103°F, as this can cause problems. If you are not able to reduce your dog's temperature or symptoms persist, take him to a veterinarian immediately.

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 pup with lots of shade to retreat to and easy access to cool water. A well-ventilated dog crate or specially designed dog seat belt may also work well.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect your dog might be suffering from heatstroke? Contact River Hills Pet Care Hospital as soon as possible for daytime emergency veterinary service. 

Compassionate Veterinary Care

At River Hills Pet Care Hospital our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Mankato companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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