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Heatstroke In Dogs: Signs & Symptoms

Heatstroke In Dogs: Signs & Symptoms

Heatstroke is a deadly health condition seen in Long Island dogs. Our vets are here to provide you with all the essential information you need to keep your dog protected when it's hot outside.

What is heatstroke in dogs?

When the weather is hot, heatstroke (also known as heat exhaustion) is a serious — potentially fatal — health condition for dogs. When a dog’s body temperature rises past the normal range (101-102.5°F), hyperthermia can occur.

Heatstroke is a form of hyperthermia. It happens when the heat-dissipating mechanisms in your dog’s body are unable to properly function because of excessive heat. When your pup's body temperature rises past 104°F, they enter the danger zone. If body temperature is above 105°F, they are likely to experience heatstroke.

That’s why we need to ensure our dogs stay as cool and comfortable as possible during hot weather.

Causes of Heatstroke in Dogs

On summer days, a vehicle's temperature can quickly exceed dangerous levels (even when the inside of our vehicles do not seem “that hot” to us, remember that your dog has a fur coat on). Leave your pup safely at home while you go shopping.

A lack of access to water and shade in your backyard or at the beach can also spell trouble. Shade and water are vital on warm weather days, especially for dogs with medical conditions such as obesity, and senior dogs.

Your dog's breed could also be a contributing factor when it comes to heatstroke; flat-faced, short-nosed pups such as pugs tend to be more vulnerable to breathing issues. As you might imagine, thick coats quickly become too warm. Each dog (even the ones who love playing outside) requires close supervision, especially on days when the temperature is rising.

Heatstroke Symptoms in Dogs

During spring and summer, watch carefully for signs of heatstroke in dogs, including any combination of the following symptoms:

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

If your pooch is displaying any of the above heatstroke symptoms it's time to take action.

What To Do If Your Dog Shows Signs of Heatstroke

Thankfully, heatstroke in dogs can be reversed if you notice the signs early enough. If you notice your pup displaying any symptoms listed above, immediately take them to a cooler place with good air circulation. If symptoms do not improve quickly and you are not able to take your dog’s temperature, contact your vet immediately for advice. 

Take your dog’s temperature if you have access to a rectal thermometer. If their temperature is above 104°F, this qualifies as an emergency and your dog will need to see a vet. If this temperature is above 105°F, immediately hose or sponge your dog’s body with cool (not cold) water. Pay special attention to their stomach. A fan may also be useful. Contact us or your nearest emergency vet for further instructions.

Heatstroke is a very serious condition. You should always take your dog to a vet right away even if you are able to reduce their temperature to ensure there are no secondary complications. 

How to Help Prevent Your Dog From Getting Heatstroke

In order to prevent heatstroke in the first place be mindful of the time your dog spends outside in direct sunlight in the summer. Don't expose your dog to the heat and humidity because they are not designed to handle it.

NEVER leave your dog in a car with closed windows - even if you park in the shade. Provide your pooch with lots of shade to retreat to and easy access to cool water. A well-ventilated dog crate or specially designed seat belt for dogs may also work well.

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.

Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs should never be ignored! If your dog is showing any of the signs of heatstroke contact the vets at Atlantic Coast New York Veterinary Specialists, or the nearest emergency veterinarian for immediate care.

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