Heat Stroke in Dogs: How to Beat the Heat
If you’ve ever seen a dog sprawled out on the concrete, just basking in the sun, I can almost guarantee you cracked a smile.
A favorite memory for countless paw parents is enjoying the outdoors with their four-legged fur child. From having a partner in crime jumping through sprinklers on a hot summer day to enjoying a day at the local dog beach - the summer time is full of bonding and playful opportunities for your pup (and you of course).
However, being a responsible dog parent means being able to recognize how much heat fido can handle. It’s extremely important that paw parents take the necessary precautions when spending any amount of time outdoors, in order to prevent your dog from experiencing a heat stroke. Heat strokes in dogs is a serious condition that should not be overlooked by any means.
Knowing the signs of heat stroke in dogs and the various ways to prevent it can ensure that you’re doing everything you can to keep your puppers safe during those hot summery months.
In today’s article, we’re here to share some helpful tips to make sure that your summer is filled with wonderful dog memories, not a scary trip of heat stroke to the vet.
What is a Dog Heat Stroke?
In general, heat stroke is a condition caused by the failure of the body’s temperature-regulation mechanism when exposed to extreme heat. It’s a form of non-fever hyperthermia. If a heat stroke is not treated in a timely manner, this may cause the dog’s organs to completely shut down.
Heat stroke is typically associated with too much time outdoors during peak summer months. Also, heat stroke can occur if a dog is left in the car for too long.
What is Dog Hyperthermia?
Hyperthermia occurs when there is an elevation in body temperature that is above normal range.
Heat Exhaustion vs Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion occurs when a dog’s body temperature reaches greater than 103 degrees Fahrenheit. If a dog’s rectal temperature continues to rise above 103 and reaches 106+, they are at immediate risk for heat stroke. Heat strokes are extremely dangerous and can cause organ failure, stopping the heart altogether.
The Cause of Heat Stroke in Dogs
Unlike us humans, doggos aren’t able to sweat out excess body heat. The only sweat glands dogs have are in their paws. Unfortunately, these do very little for body temperature regulation. Instead of sweating like us humans do, dogs expel the excess heat through open mouth breathing, aka panting.
Panting is typically enough to relieve the dog of their excess heat. But, when the panting isn’t enough, heat stroke becomes a real risk, real fast.
Heat stroke occurs in summer months, typically when the warmer weather can be overbearing for our four-legged companions. Nonetheless, heat stroke can occur any time of the year, especially if an owner carelessly leaves their dog outside without shade and water or is left in the care for a long period of time.
Thankfully, heat strokes are entirely avoidable! Woo.
Which Dogs are Prone to Heat Stroke?
Do note, any dog may be at risk of developing a heat stroke, however, brachycephalic breeds are more prone. The term brachycephalic refers to doggos that have a relatively short nose and flat face. Such breeds include:
- Shih Tzus
- Boston Terriers
- French Bulldogs
- English Bulldogs
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
The dog breeds listed above are very sensitive to heat due to the shape of their skull affecting their sinuses, which in turn, affect their respiratory system.
In addition, dogs with long hair and thick coats and dogs that are very old and very young are at a greater risk of heat stroke.
Dogs that have preexisting medical conditions that cause difficulty when breathing or heart problems are also at higher risk for heat stroke.
Dogs that are extremely active, including working dogs or hunting dogs, are also at a high risk of heat stroke. It’s crucial for these animals to get appropriate breaks in their workday as well as have enough shade to rest and retreat to for rest and water.
How to Identify A Heat Stroke: The Symptoms
Luckily, heat stroke doesn’t appear just out of thin air. There are numerous signs and symptoms that paw parents should be aware of. The first major red flag for heat stroke is excessive panting. If you see your puppers panting excessively, take them indoors and make sure they have cool water to guzzle down.
If the dog at risk is not tended to quickly, the following symptoms may rapidly develop:
- Rapid heart rate
- Weakness or lethargy
- Increased salivation
- Excessive drooling
- Signs of dehydration
- Bright red tongue
- Bloodshot eyes
- Thick, sticky-looking saliva
- Production of little to no urine
- A reddened or pale appearance of gums
If the heat stroke progressively gets worse, it can lead to seizures, sudden kidney failure, cardiac arrest, coma, and possible death.
Again, we can’t stress this enough: HEAT STROKE IS SERIOUS.
How to Identify Heat Exhaustion: The Symptoms
Heat exhaustion is a precursor for heat stroke, essentially. The symptoms of heat exhaustion include increased heart rate, excessive panting, and a rectal temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Ek!
Ways to Prevent Heat Stroke in Dogs
As we briefly mentioned above, heat strokes can be entirely prevented. There are various things paw parents can do to ensure their pup is taken care of.
1. Keep Your Pup Cool
Keep your pup in a cool area of your home. This is a safe and effective way to prevent them from overheating, fast. A fan or air-conditioner can make all the difference for them!
Paw parents can place ice cubes in a baggy, place an old towel or t-shirt over the baggy of ice, and lay it safely on your pup for them to help cool down.
2. Shade Shade Shade
It may seem obvious, but by simply providing your pup shade, you’re able to protect them against the hot sun. If your dog spends a large amount of time outside, make sure that they have a dog house, umbrella, overhang, or some sort of structure to protect them on a summer day.
3. Keep Cool Water Near
Keep cold water on hand at all times. This is an easy and efficient way to protect your pup from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Many companies produce great collapsible bowls that are easy to take with you!
Great for vacations, trips to the park, walks around the neighborhood, car trips. We recommend purchasing a few of them, keeping one on hand with you! On average, a dog will consume about 1 cup of water per 10 pounds of body weight per day. Plan ahead on how much water you’ll bring!
4. Be Aware of Health Problems
Health conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, respiratory diseases, and heart disease can often cause heat stroke to develop at a quicker rate. Heat stroke can also be more dangerous to dogs with health problems. Taking precautionary measures is extremely important in warmer months.
5. Stay Alert
If you see a dog in a hot car and you believe that he or she is in danger, write down the make and model of the care and what breed of dog it is. Locate security and have the information on hand. If you are unable to find the dog’s owner quickly, a simple phone call to law enforcement would be the next step. Remember, the time is now. This is the perfect time to act quickly.
Heat Stroke in Dogs: Final Thoughts
We know how much your puppers means to you, trust us. At Petly CBD, we are all dog owners and pet lovers, 100%. Thus we know that you only want the best of the best for your four-legged BFF’s overall health and well-being. With that being said, lengthy outdoor events during the summer can lead to dangerous situations. It’s important for paw parents to be aware of the heat stroke and heat exhaustion possibilities.
By simply doing things such as always having plenty of shade for fido, having a cool water source nearby at all times, and staying on top of your dog’s health concerns and conditions, can help you ensure that your dog is staying safe, hydrated, and living their best life while enjoying the summer sunny months. In addition, knowing when to bring to your pup inside and recognizing times that it’s likely best to leave him or her home is just as important!
If heat stroke does unfortunately occur, it’s crucial that you know what to do and that you act quickly. Knowing the steps to help your fur child can be the difference between life and death.
Stay aware. Plan ahead of events and outings. Enjoy the summer sun…...safely!