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Heatstroke in Dogs

Heatstroke is a deadly health condition that is unfortunately common in dogs. Today, our vets in Gainesville share some important information to help you protect your dog as the mercury rises in the summer heat. 

What is Heatstroke in Dogs?

When the weather turns hot, heatstroke (also known as heat exhaustion) is a serious—potentially fatal—health condition that many dogs experience. When a dog's body temperature rises past its normal range (101-102.5°F), hyperthermia can occur.

Heatstroke is a type of hypothermia. It occurs when the heat-dissipating mechanisms in your dog's body are unable to function properly due to excessive heat. When your pooch's body temperature rises above 104°F, they slip into the danger zone. If their body temperature registers above 105°F, they will probably experience heatstroke. 

This is why we need to keep our canine companions stay as cool and comfortable as possible during hot weather. 

Causes of Heatstroke in Dogs 

On hot summer days, the temperature inside a vehicle can quickly rise past dangerous levels (even when the interior of our vehicles do not seem "that hot" to us, remember that your dog is wearing a fur coat). Leave your pooch safely at home when you run errands or go shopping. 

If your dog doesn't have access to enough shade and water in your backyard or at the beach, this may cause trouble. Water and shade are vital to keeping dogs cool on warm weather days, especially for senior dogs and those with medical conditions such as obesity. 

Your dog's breed can also contribute to their susceptibility to heatstroke; short-nosed, flat-faced pooches like pugs tend to be more vulnerable to breathing issues. As you might imagine, thick coats can quickly become too warm. Every dog (even ones who jump at the chance to play outside in any weather) should be closely supervised, especially on days when the forecast calls for rising temperatures. 

Heatstroke Symptoms in Dogs 

Watch carefully for signs of heatstroke in dogs during spring and summer. You might notice any combination of the following symptoms if your pup is in danger of heat exhaustion:

  • Signs of discomfort 
  • Mental flatness or "dullness"
  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Red gums 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Collapsing or loss of consciousness

If your dog is showing any of these signs, this is a veterinary emergency and you must take action. 

What to Do If Your Dog Shows Signs of Heatstroke 

Thankfully, heatstroke in dogs can be reversed if you notice the signs early enough. If you notice your pup displaying any symptoms listed above, immediately take them to a cooler place with good air circulation. If symptoms do not improve quickly and you are not able to take your dog’s temperature, contact your vet immediately for advice. 

Take your dog’s temperature if you have access to a rectal thermometer. If their temperature is above 104°F, this qualifies as an emergency and your dog will need to see a vet. If this temperature is above 105°F, immediately hose or sponge your dog’s body with cool (not cold) water. Pay special attention to their stomach. A fan may also be useful. Contact us or your nearest emergency vet for further instructions.

Heatstroke is a very serious condition. You should always take your dog to a vet right away even if you are able to reduce their temperature to ensure there are no secondary complications. 

How to Help Prevent Your Dog From Getting Heatstroke

In order to prevent heatstroke in the first place be mindful of the time your dog spends outside in direct sunlight in the summer. Don't expose your dog to the heat and humidity because they are not designed to handle it.

NEVER leave your dog in a car with closed windows - even if you park in the shade. Provide your pooch with lots of shade to retreat to and easy access to cool water. A well-ventilated dog crate or specially designed seat belt for dogs 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.

Never ignore symptoms of heatstroke in dogs. If your dog is displaying signs of heatstroke, contact our Gainesville vets or the nearest emergency veterinary hospital for immediate care.

New Patients Welcome

Browns Bridge Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Gainesville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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Contact (770) 536-8831