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How to tell if your dog has heat stroke - Signs, symptoms, remedies, actions

In this post, our Pittsboro vets clarify heat stroke in dogs, outline a list of symptoms for pup parents to monitor closely, instruct you on what steps to take if you suspect your dog is experiencing this condition, and offer prevention tips.

What is heat stroke in dogs?

When the hot weather arrives, heat stroke (also referred to as heat exhaustion) is a serious - sometimes fatal - danger for dogs. Hyperthermia (fever) can occur when a dog's body temperature is elevated above a normal range (101.5°F).

Heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, occurs when excessive heat overwhelms your dog's body's heat-dissipating mechanisms. When the body temperature exceeds 104°F, your dog enters the danger zone, and a body temperature above 105°F is indicative of heat stroke.

That's why we must ensure our dogs are as cool and comfortable as possible in summer.

What causes heat stroke in dogs?

In summer, a vehicle's temperature can quickly become dangerous for dogs, even when it doesn't feel excessively hot to us. Remember that your dog wears a coat, so you must leave them home when you shop.

Lack of access to shade and water, whether at the beach or in your backyard, can also lead to problems. Dogs, particularly those with medical conditions like obesity and senior dogs, require water and shade on warm days.

The breed can play a role, too; short-nosed, flat-faced canines are more prone to breathing issues. Thick coats can cause discomfort sooner. Every dog, even those eager for outdoor activities, requires close supervision, especially on hot days.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke in dogs?

During the spring and summer, keep a close eye on your dog for symptoms of heat stroke, including:

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

What's the treatment I should do if my dog is suffering from heat stroke?

Fortunately, early detection can reverse heat stroke in dogs. If you observe any of the symptoms mentioned above in your pup, relocate them to an area with better air circulation. If the symptoms persist and you cannot measure your dog's temperature, promptly seek emergency care from your veterinarian.

Utilize a rectal thermometer to gauge your dog's temperature, if available. If it registers below 105°F, it constitutes an emergency, necessitating a visit to the vet. In cases where the temperature exceeds 105°F, use lukewarm water to hose or sponge your dog's body, with particular attention to the stomach. A fan may also assist in cooling.

After a few minutes, recheck the temperature until it drops to 103°F. Avoid lowering it beyond this point, as it may lead to complications. Regardless of your success in reducing the temperature, consult a veterinarian immediately for your dog's well-being.

How can I prevent heat stroke?

Ensure your furry friend spends minimal time outdoors or in the sun during summer. Avoid subjecting your dog to excessive heat and humidity, especially if they have short faces, as their bodies cannot tolerate it.

NEVER leave your dog unattended in a car with closed windows, even if parked in a shaded area. Ensure your pup has ample shade to seek refuge and easy access to cool water. Consider using a well-ventilated dog crate or a specially designed seat belt for dogs for added safety.

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 may be suffering from heat stroke? We provide urgent care to pets experiencing emergencies. If your pet has an emergency during our regular hours, contact our Pittsboro today.

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Our vets at Hope Crossing Animal Hospital are now accepting new patients! Our talented veterinary team is passionate about caring for the pets of Pittsboro. Contact us today to book your first appointment. 

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