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Heatstroke in Dogs

When the days get hotter there will be certain conditions that your pet will have a greater risk of experiencing such as heat stroke. Here, our Blountville vets explain the causes, symptoms, and treatments for dog heat stroke, along with preventive measures you can take to ensure your pet's safety.

Dogs pant to release heat from their bodies, unlike humans who sweat. A dog's body temperature rises when panting is insufficient, which can cause heat stroke and possibly result in death if untreated.

What causes heat stroke in dogs?

Dogs can develop heat stroke in any hot environment. The most frequent cause is a pet owner's carelessness, such as neglecting to provide water and shade when a dog is outdoors or leaving a dog in a car.

The risk of heat stroke is higher in some dogs than others. Heatstroke is more likely to occur in dogs with thick fur, short noses, or those who are ill. Even dogs who enjoy continuous play and exercise need to be closely watched for signs of heat stroke, particularly on hot and muggy days.

What are the symptoms of dog heat stroke?

The most telling signs of heat stroke in dogs is excessive panting. Other symptoms may include signs of discomfort such as drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhea, mental dullness or loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, and collapse. 

In addition to causing hidden issues like brain swelling, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding, and abnormal blood clotting, canine heat stroke can be a sign of a serious medical condition.This is why it is strongly advised to seek immediate veterinary care.

What should I do if I think my dog has heat stroke?

Call your veterinarian or our nearest emergency animal hospital and tell us you are on your way. On the way, travel with the windows open and the air conditioner on.

Until you can get to the veterinarian, be sure to:

  • Remove the dog from the hot environment immediately.
  • Do not give the dog aspirin to lower its temperature and can lead to other problems.
  • Let your dog drink as much cool water as they want without forcing them to drink.
  • Cool your dog off with cold water by placing a soaked towel on their back.

How will the veterinarian treat my dog's heat stroke?

With cases of heatstroke in dogs, treatment will include intravenous fluid therapy to replace fluids and minerals. 

Your veterinarian will also keep an eye out for secondary complications like kidney failure, the emergence of neurologic symptoms, abnormal clotting, changes in blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalances.

How can I prevent my dog from developing heat stroke?

As a pet owner, it is important to be aware of the outside temperature and take appropriate measures to prevent heat stroke, especially during hot and humid conditions.

When outdoors, always make sure your dog is in a well-ventilated area with access to plenty of water and shade.

While traveling in cars, make sure that your dog is kept in crates that have good ventilation, and never leave your dog in a car with the windows closed.

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.

If your dog is showing any signs of heat stroke, contact our Blountville veterinary hospital right away.

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Airport Pet Emergency Clinic is open weekday evenings, overnight, weekends and holidays to provide your pet with urgent care when needed. Our experienced Blountville vets are passionate about caring for companion animals.

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