Protecting Your Dog From A Heat Stroke

Protecting Your Dog From A Heat Stroke

The hot Summer months can lead to many health concerns for you dog. One of the most dangerous concerns here in the South and in many other parts of the country are different types of heat related stress such as a heat stroke or hyperthermia. Dogs eliminate heat by panting and by a very limited amount of sweat glands in their footpads. Sometimes due to external extreme temperatures their body temperature rises beyond what they are naturally able to eliminate. Some dogs such as dogs with thicker fur or shorter noses are at a higher risk than others and should be watched more closely. Extremely active breeds such as the Brittany or Labrador are at a higher risk because they tend to become so involved in their activities that they don’t stop to get water or cool off often enough.

What Is A Heat Stroke?

A heat stroke occurs when there is an elevation in body temperature above the normal range and the mechanisms in your dog’s body that normally dissipate excessive heat are not functioning correctly. According the the American Kennel Club a normal body temperature for a dog ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. When the Summer temperatures are rising or your dog is exercising excessively a heat stroke can occur.

Long Term Problems

Some of the results of a heat stroke can’t be detected immediately so it is best to have your dog checked out by your veterinarian even if you think you have avoided or prevented a heat stroke. Dogs can suffer from blood clotting problems, kidney issues and possibly kidney failure, and swelling of the brain. Some dogs will often have seizures that accompany any or all of these conditions.

Signs and Symptoms

If you fear your dog is overheating or if he has any of the following signs or symptoms he may be overheating or having a heatstroke.

      1. Excessive panting or drooling. If you looks like he can’t quite pant enough or starts to blink his eyes like he is struggling with breathing.
      2. Reddened or pale gums
      3. Increased heart rate.
      4. Reddened tongue.
      5. Lethargia
      6. Weakness in the knees or neck
      7. Dizziness
      8. Vomiting or diarrhea (although this is usually later, not early in the process)


If your dog has any of the signs of a heat stroke it is recommended that you get him to your veterinarian as soon as possible. However, following a few immediate at-home steps can prevent further damage and possibly save his life.

      1. Put him in a cool bath, not icy but, cool or if you have access to a water hose, the water temperature of the water from a hose is usually perfect, keep his head elevated while you run the water over his head and neck.
      2. Once you have cooled him down with water, you should massage his legs to help his blood start to circulate again.
      3. Allow him to drink as much fresh water as he will.
      4. Watch him closely and check his temperature until it is normal again.
      5. Get him to your Veterinarian so he can be checked.

Prevention Is Always Best

Educating yourself about heat related health concerns is the best prevention. If you have one of the breeds that is more likely to overheat, it is imperative that you take action BEFORE his temperature begins to rise.

      1. Offer your dog plenty of water at all times.
      2. Make sure your dog has access to shade.
      3. Never leave your dog in the car, even in the shade.
      4. Wet him down frequently or allow him to swim in pool or other cool body of water.
      5. Don’t exercise your dog on days that the temperature is extreme.
      6. Keep in mind, if it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your dog.

It is possible for your dog to make a complete recovery. Knowledge is your best friend when it comes to preventing and treating your dog. Keep a close eye on your dog this Summer to avoid heat related issues and to help your dog live a long and healthy life.

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