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Heatstroke in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes & What to Do

Heatstroke in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes & What to Do

Heatstroke can seriously harm dogs and even lead to fatal consequences. Nevertheless, you can take steps to prevent it. In this article, our vets in Baton Rouge outline the signs to monitor and what to do if you believe your dog might be experiencing heatstroke. We also share advice on how to avoid it. 

Heatstroke in Dogs

As you head out to enjoy the warm weather months with your dog, remember that heatstroke, also known as heat exhaustion, poses a serious and potentially life-threatening risk. When a dog's body temperature exceeds the normal range of 101.5°F, it can lead to hyperthermia or fever.

Heatstroke occurs when a dog's body struggles to dissipate heat effectively due to excessive warmth. When the body temperature climbs above 104°F, your dog enters a dangerous situation. If it goes above 105°F, it indicates the onset of heatstroke.

That's why ensuring that our dogs stay as cool and comfortable as possible during the summer months is crucial.

What causes heatstroke in dogs?

In the scorching summer months, your car's interior temperature can rapidly reach hazardous levels. Even if you don't feel like it's too hot inside, remember that your dog has a fur coat to deal with. It's best to leave your dog at home when you go shopping.

Furthermore, a dog's breed can play a role in their susceptibility to heatstroke. Breeds with short noses and flat faces are more prone to breathing difficulties. Additionally, thick coats can quickly become uncomfortable as the temperature soars. Regardless of whether your dog enjoys outdoor playtime, it's crucial to provide supervision, especially on the hottest days. 

What are the symptoms and signs of heatstroke in dogs?

During spring and summer, watch your canine companion closely. Heatstroke symptoms in dogs include:

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

What should I do if I suspect my dog is suffering from heatstroke?

Fortunately, you can reverse heatstroke in dogs when detected early. If you observe any of the symptoms mentioned above in your pup, promptly move them to a cooler area with good air circulation. If the symptoms don't improve quickly and you can't measure your dog's temperature, contact your vet immediately for guidance.

If you can access a rectal thermometer, take your dog's temperature. If it registers below 105°F, it's considered an emergency, and you should seek veterinary care. If the temperature is above 105°F, gently sponge or hose your dog's body with cool (not cold) water, paying particular attention to their stomach. Using a fan may also help.

After a few minutes, recheck your dog's temperature until it reaches 103°F. Avoid lowering it below this point, as it could potentially cause issues. Regardless of whether you manage to reduce their temperature or not, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.

How can I prevent heatstroke?

Be mindful of the amount of time your furry friend spends outdoors or in the sun during the summer. Avoid subjecting your dog to heat and humidity, especially if they have short faces, as they struggle to tolerate it.

Avoid leaving your dog inside a car with closed windows, even if you park in a shaded area. Ensure your pup has plenty of shade to seek refuge in and access to cool water. Consider using a well-ventilated dog crate or a specially designed dog seat belt if needed.

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 might be suffering from heatstroke? Contact Kleinpeter Veterinary Hospital as soon as possible for daytime emergency veterinary service. 

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Kleinpeter Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Baton Rouge companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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