Heatstroke in dogs

As we head towards the warmer months of summer, it is important to be aware of how to keep your pet safe in the heat. Dogs can suffer from heatstroke, which is when the body can’t cope with the internal rise in temperature and in extreme cases, this can be fatal. Dogs cool down by panting, and can only sweat via their nose and their pads, however sometimes this isn’t enough.

Here are some warning signs of heatstroke:

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Become lethargic, drowsy and wobbly on their feet
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Collapse or seizures

Should your pet be showing any of these symptoms, move them to a shaded area and call the vet immediately.

All dogs can suffer from heatstroke, however, some are more susceptible.

These include:

  • Overweight dogs
  • Flat faced breeds (twice as likely!)
  • Very energetic dogs
  • Very old or young dogs
  • Dogs over 50kg
  • Thick/long fur breeds
  • Dogs with pre-existing health issues, particularly heart or breathing issues

Here are some top tips to help you to enjoy the sun but keep your dog safe:

  • Walking – dogs do not cope as well in the heat as humans. Imagine having to wear a fur coat on a hot summer’s day! Plan your day around the weather and go for a walk either early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperature is a cooler.
  • Many cooling products are available such as: mats, bandanas, coats to help keep your pets core temperature cool.
  • Remember to take water with you – ensure your dog always has access to clean water at home and when out.
  • Know the signs of heatstroke (noted above)
  • Check ground temperature – dogs paws can burn on hot pavements. As a general rule, if it is too hot for your hands then it is too hot for their paws.
  • Do NOT leave dogs in cars, even with the windows open.
  • At home, you can provide damp towels for your dogs to lay on, a splash pool, add ice cubes to their water bowl, and frozen treats.
  • If your dog has very thick hair, clipping their tummy can help cool them and shortening the rest of their coat can help.

What to do 

  • “COOL FIRST, TRANSPORT SECOND”. 
  • Move them to a shaded area and pour cold water (cold tap water is fine) over their whole body, avoiding their face. Alternatively, if they are used to water and won’t panic, submerge their whole body into water (except for their head).
  • Create a breeze – either with a fan or open doors/windows.
  • Offer them a drink, but do not force them to drink.
  • Put your dog on top of a cooling mat, do not place a wet towel over them as this traps the heat and could make them hotter.
  • Put a wrapped ice pack/frozen veg bag between their thighs.
  • Call your vet as soon as possible!

The quicker you can cool your dog, the better their chance of a full recovery. 

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