Heat Stroke In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, And Prevention

Posted on: 27 June 2016

With summer's arrival, many dog owners may be concerned about heat stroke. Below is an overview of the condition, including causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention tips.

What Causes Heat Stroke in Dogs?

Heat stroke is a common occurrence in the hot summer months, and is caused by excessive exposure to heat or high humidity.

While many occurrences of heat stroke take place outside, dogs can suffer from heat stroke even if they're inside. This is especially true if your dog's location is poorly ventilated, is in direct sunlight, and if your dog has no access to water.

What are the Symptoms of Heat Stroke?

There are a number of signs of heat stroke in dogs, and the symptoms your dog displays will depend on how long your dog has been suffering from heat stroke.

A common symptom of heat stroke is excessive panting. This is usually the first symptom, and can be distinguished from regular panting by the speed and intensity as your dog's whole body will likely shake with the effort. Other signs include dehydration, an excessive amount of drooling, and rapid heart rate. In the later stages of heat stroke, your dog may become confused, unconscious, and can even suffer from muscle tremors and seizures.

How Is Heat Stroke Treated?

Heat stroke is treated by external cooling of the dog, and is best treated when signs of heat stroke are first noticed.

If you notice your dog is becoming overheated, immediately remove them from the heat and place them into a cool bath (not cold, as you don't want to shock their system) and ensure that cool water runs over their head and neck. If a bath is not available, a garden hose can be used, or a cool compress may be applied to the top of the head and back of the neck. It's vital that your dog be given as much water to drink as they'd like (unless they're unconscious), and if unconscious or seizing, rushed to an emergency veterinarian.

How Can Heat Stroke Be Prevented?

Fortunately for dog owners, there are a number of ways that you can ensure your dog stays cool this summer.

It's best to keep dogs indoors on especially hot days, but this may not always be possible. If your dog must be outdoors for a few hours, ensure that they have access to drinking water, shade, and even a kiddie pool that they can lie in. When indoors, it's important that you dog has access to ventilation, so opening windows or running a fan is a good idea, especially on particularly humid days. And remember, never leave your dog in a car, even for a few minutes.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, it's best to get them to a veterinarian immediately. To learn more, contact a veterinary clinic like Northside Emergency Pet Clinic.