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A Guide to Prevent Heatstroke in Dogs for Every Pet Parent​

by Vetic Editorial
Published: Last Updated on 704 views 5 Mins read
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Heatstroke in dogs is a serious and potentially fatal condition that every pet parent should be aware of, especially during the hot summer months in India. Understanding the signs, causes, preventive measures, and treatment options is crucial to ensuring the safety and well-being of your pup.

When it comes to heat-induced illnesses in dogs, heatstroke is the most severe and life-threatening condition. Various medical studies indicate that only about 50% of dogs suffering from heatstroke survive. Heatstroke occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises dangerously high due to increased external temperatures. Unlike humans, dogs cannot cool themselves through sweating. Instead, they dissipate heat by panting, which causes water to evaporate from their tongues and nasal passages. However, this method is often inadequate, especially in extreme heat, making dogs more susceptible to heatstroke than humans, particularly during India’s scorching summers.

For pet parents, it’s crucial to recognize the early signs of heat-related issues, such as heat cramps or muscle spasms, that result from prolonged dehydration and electrolyte depletion. If you suspect your pet is experiencing heatstroke, do not waste time; rush to the nearest veterinary clinic for immediate assistance.

What is Heatstroke in Dogs?

What is Heatstroke In Dogs: It is also known as hyperthermia. If a dog's body temperature exceeds 104-degree Fahrenheit, it is a sign of heatstroke and it can be life threatening for a dog.

Heatstroke is the most severe form of hyperthermia, posing a significant and often fatal health risk to dogs. Medically speaking, heatstroke is a condition where a dog’s body temperature exceeds 106°F (41°C) without any prior signs of illness, primarily due to sun exposure or other environmental factors.

In dire situations, if a dog’s temperature rises to between 107°F and 109°F (41.7°C-42.7°C), it can cause irreversible damage to vital organs, including the central nervous system, heart, liver, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and the coagulation system. When a dog lacks access to water, shade, or rest on an excessively sunny day, heatstroke can quickly overwhelm the body’s defenses, potentially leading to fatal consequences. It’s an extremely urgent situation, and immediate veterinary care is required. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, do not wait—take your pup to the veterinarian immediately for medical treatment.

Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs

How do you know if your dog has heatstroke? The signs listed by Vetic include excessive panting, red gums and mucous membrane, rapid heartbeat, severe dehydration, elevated body temperature (above 104 degree Fahrenheit), Disorientation, weakness, seizures and collapse

Identifying the symptoms of heatstroke in their dogs can be challenging for new pet parents. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Excessive panting and drooling

  • Unresponsiveness

  • Dry and reddened gums/mucous membranes

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Dehydration

  • High temperature (104°F and above)

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Disorientation

  • Weakness or lethargy

  • Seizures

If you notice any of these signs, take immediate action to avoid further complications.

Dog Breeds More Likely to Get Heatstroke

As mentioned earlier, dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke than humans due to their inability to dissipate heat through sweating. Certain breeds, particularly those with flat faces (brachycephalic breeds) such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Boxers, and Mastiffs, are at a higher risk of heatstroke as they often struggle to regulate their body heat effectively.

 

Older dogs, especially those who are geriatric or overweight, are also more prone to heatstroke than their younger counterparts.

 

To minimize the risk of heatstroke, keep them indoors in cool environments throughout the day. Avoid walking your dog during peak heat hours; instead, opt for walks early in the morning or late in the evening, after sunrise or before sunset.

Causes of Heatstroke in Dogs

Causes of Heatstroke in dogs by Vetic Pet Clinic. Causes include exposure to the direct sun and heat, exercising outdoors in the sun, staying outdoors without water and shade, and staying in the car without adequate air cooling and ventilation.

Always remember, if the weather is hot for you, it’s even hotter for your pet. Here are two common scenarios that can cause heatstroke in dogs:

  • Dogs Left Inside a Car for Long Periods, Even on Pleasant Weather Days – Recent research indicates that the temperature inside a car can rise by approximately 5°C per hour. So, even if the outside temperature is 27°C, the interior of a car can quickly reach 32°C within an hour. Therefore, never leave a dog unattended inside a vehicle, even if the windows are partially open or the weather seems pleasant.

  • Exercising the Dog on Hot, Humid Days – Exercising your dog during summer requires precautions as they can be vulnerable to heatstroke, even during short walks. It’s advisable to engage in outdoor activities early in the morning or late at night when temperatures are cooler. Additionally, ensure your dog can access plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated.

By being aware of these risks, you can help protect your dog from the dangers of heatstroke.

Treatment for Heatstroke in Dogs

heat stroke in dogs treatment at home: Heatstroke First Aid For Dogs - move the dog to a shade, pour cool but not cold water all over the dog's body, allow small sips of cool water. Once the dog is stable move them to the nearest veterinary clinic for heatstroke treatment. Infographic by Vetic.

In severe cases, your dog may need to be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids to combat dehydration. The veterinary team will closely monitor your dog’s mental status, temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. Depending on the severity, medications and hydrating fluids will be administered to address symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, potential infections, brain swelling, and seizures.

 

Additional treatment options may include plasma transfusions, low-concentration oxygen therapy, and anti-arrhythmic medications. An electrocardiogram test may be conducted, and repeat bloodwork will be performed to monitor any changes and guide ongoing therapy.

 

Pet parents must understand that treatment for heatstroke is not optional but absolutely mandatory. Without quick medical intervention, your dog’s health and well-being can be in great danger.

Daily Tips to Prevent Heatstroke in Dogs

Daily Tips to Prevent Heatstroke in Dogs: Hyperthermia or temperature over 106-degrees Fahrenheit in dogs and cats is always an emergency. Treatment of heatstroke in dogs include fluid therapy. Earliest diagnosis and treatment can save your dog's life.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Therefore, it is important to take precautions, especially during hot weather. Here are some preventive measures that every pet parent should follow to prevent heatstroke in dogs:

  • Reserve Outdoor Time for Cooler Hours: Take your dog outside during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning before sunrise or late evening after sunset. Even brief walks during exceptionally hot and humid conditions can trigger heatstroke in susceptible dogs.
  • Ensure Access to Shade, Water, and Rest: Always provide your pet with access to shade, freshwater, and timely rest when playing or exercising outdoors.
  • Keep Pets Indoors on Hot Days: On hot days, keep your pet indoors in an air-conditioned environment, especially if they have predisposing factors such as advanced age, brachycephalic syndrome, obesity, heart disease, tracheal collapse, or laryngeal paralysis.
  • Never Leave Your Dog Unattended in a Car: Regardless of how nice the weather seems, never leave your dog unattended in a car. Even with open windows or shaded parking, the interior of a car can rapidly become over 40°F hotter than the outside temperature.
  • Regular Grooming: Ensure your dog stays comfortable in the summer heat giving them timely baths. Professional grooming sessions can help maintain a healthy coat length, particularly beneficial for long-haired breeds. Do not opt for zero cuts or shaves during the summer since the long hair creates cool air pockets and helps regulate your pet’s body temperature.

By following these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of heatstroke and ensure the safety and well-being of your dog.

In conclusion, heatstroke in dogs is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. By understanding the signs, causes, preventive measures, and treatment options outlined in this guide, pet parents can take proactive steps to protect their furry companions and ensure their safety throughout the year. Remember, vigilance and prompt action are key in combating heatstroke and keeping our beloved pets healthy and happy!

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