Heatstroke in Dogs: What You Need to Know

Dogs, like humans, can suffer from heatstroke, a serious condition that can be life-threatening if left untreated. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of heatstroke and how to treat it. In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about heatstroke in dogs, including its symptoms, emergency first aid, and which dogs are most at risk.

Symptoms of Heatstroke

Heatstroke occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises to an abnormally high level, and they are unable to reduce it by panting. Some of the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs include heavy panting and difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, lethargy, vomiting, and collapse. If you see a dog in a hot car displaying any of these signs, it’s important to dial 999 immediately.

Emergency First Aid for Dogs with Heatstroke

If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, it’s crucial to act quickly to lower their body temperature gradually. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Move the dog inside to a cool, shaded area if possible.
  2. Immediately pour cool tap water (not cold to avoid shock) over the dog using a hose or jug. Tap water has been found to be the most effective at cooling dogs with heat-related illnesses. In a true emergency, any water is better than nothing.
  3. Avoid using wet towels to cool the dog, as they can worsen the condition by trapping heat. In mild cases, towels can be placed under the dog, but never over them. In a true emergency, water immersion or pouring water with air movement is ideal.
  4. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water.
  5. Continue to pour cool water over the dog until their breathing starts to settle, but not too much that they start shivering.
  6. Throughout the treatment of heatstroke, try to keep the water on or near your dog’s head to avoid the risk of them inhaling water and drowning, especially for flat-faced and unconscious dogs.
  7. Once the dog is cool, take them to the nearest emergency veterinarian.

Dogs Most Prone to Heatstroke

While any dog can suffer from heatstroke, some breeds are more prone to it than others. Very young or old dogs, dogs with thick, heavy coats, and dogs with certain diseases or on certain medications are more at risk. Additionally, dogs with short, flat faces like pugs and bulldog types are also at higher risk due to their anatomy, which can make it difficult for them to breathe and regulate their body temperature.

Heatstroke is a serious condition that can be life-threatening for dogs. As a pet owner, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of heatstroke, especially during hot weather, and know how to provide emergency first aid to your pet. Remember to move your dog to a cool, shaded area, pour cool water over them, and avoid using wet towels. Dogs at higher risk of heatstroke should be closely monitored during hot weather, and steps should be taken to keep them cool and comfortable. By taking these steps, you can help keep your furry friend safe and healthy during the summer months.