7 Ways to Prevent Heat Stroke in Dogs
- by Pedro Padierna
What is Heat Stroke?
‘Heat stroke’ is a term commonly used to mean an unusually high body temperature. When talking about domestic animals, this usually means a body temperature of above 39.4°C (103°F). A dog’s life is at risk when their body temperature is above 41.2°C (107°F). Heat stroke can cause loss of consciousness and multiple organ failure, resulting in death if not treated.
What are the Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs?
The main symptoms of heat exhaustion in dogs are elevated breathing rates or difficulty breathing, abnormal gum colour or gum bruising, inability to urinate, dry or sticky gums, lethargy and seizures.
What to look out for:
- High breathing rate and constant panting
- Difficulty breathing
- Dry nose
- Dry or sticky gums
- Discoloured gums or gum bruising
- Excessive drooling or drool that is stickier than usual
- Inability to urinate
- Fast pulse
- Muscle tremors
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Dizziness or incoordination
Mild heat exhaustion can often be treated at home, but more severe heat stroke will require medical attention in order to prevent the dog from losing consciousness or experiencing organ failure.
7 Ways to Prevent Heat Stroke in Dogs
Severe heat stroke can be fatal for dogs, as they are much more sensitive to heat than humans, due to their reduced number of sweat glands and thick fur coats. Follow these seven steps to prevent your dog from suffering heat stroke.
1. Don’t leave your dog in a parked car
A large number of dogs suffer heat stroke each year as a result of being left in a parked car. Whether a window is open or not, the temperature inside a car can rise very, very quickly. Being left alone in a car for just 10 minutes can result in a 20 degree rise in temperature within the car, which is incredibly dangerous for dogs.
2. Don’t let your dog spend too much time outside
On very hot days, it is wise not to let your dog spend too much time outside. If they prefer to be outside, then make sure they have a shady spot to lie in.
3. Walk your dog at cooler times of day
When the weather is particularly hot, avoid walking your dog for long periods of time. Consider walking your dog early in the morning or later in the evening, when the outside temperature is not so hot.
4. Keep your house cool
If you have air conditioning, leave it on when you leave your dog inside the house by themselves. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider leaving a fan on for your dog while you are out.
5. Provide your dog with plenty of water
It goes without saying that making sure your dog has plenty of water is crucial to avoiding heat stroke. Make sure your dog has multiple water bowls, including one in the garden, and take water out with you when you walk them.
6. Be aware of your dog’s medical history
Some dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke due to health issues or their age. Breathing problems, obesity and heart disease can all increase the likelihood of your dog suffering in the heat.
7. Be vigilant to the signs of heat stroke
Lastly, make sure you are aware of the signs of heat exhaustion. If you suspect that your dog is getting too hot, treat by taking them to a cooler area (i.e., indoors), wetting them with water and giving them plenty to drink. If you suspect they are getting worse and may be suffering from heat stroke then contact your local veterinary practise as soon as possible.
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