Hot summer weather in Raritan, Somerset County means that our emergency vets see a rise in the number of cases of heatstroke in dogs. Below we list some of the symptoms of this potentially deadly condition as well as what you should do if you think that your dog may have heat stroke.
Unlike humans who are able to sweat in order to cool our bodies down, dogs eliminate heat from their bodies by panting. When panting isn’t enough, a dog’s body temperature rises, and they can experience heatstroke, which can quickly become fatal if not treated immediately.
What causes heatstroke in dogs?
Any hot environment can cause heatstroke in dogs. Nonetheless, the most common cause is a careless action by a pet parent, such as leaving their dog in a car on a hot day or forgetting to provide adequate water and shade when their pet is outdoors.
While any dog can suffer from heatstroke, some dogs are more prone to the condition than others. Dogs with thick fur, short noses or pets suffering from underlying medical conditions tend to be more susceptible to heatstroke. And it's important to note that it isn't only neglected dogs who end up in our emergency vet hospital with heatstroke. Even well cared for pets who enjoy nutritious food, plenty of exercise and fun outdoor playtime should be closely monitored for symptoms of heatstroke, particularly on hot and humid days.
What are the symptoms of dog heatstroke?
The most obvious symptom of heatstroke in dogs is excessive panting. However other symptoms that pet parents should watch for include drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhea, mental dullness or loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, and collapse.
Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs should always be treated as an emergency since this condition can indicate serious medical problems and cause unseen issues, such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and abnormal clotting of blood. Immediate veterinary care is highly recommended if you think that your dog has heatstroke.
What should I do if I think my dog has heatstroke?
Call your veterinarian or the nearest emergency animal hospital and tell them you are on your way. While traveling to the vet's office, keep the vehicle windows open and the air conditioner on full.
Until you can get to the veterinarian, be sure to:
- Remove the dog from the hot environment immediately.
- 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 heatstroke?
Typically treatment of heatstroke in dogs includes intravenous fluid therapy to replace fluids and minerals.
The veterinarian treating your dog will also monitor your pet for secondary complications such as electrolytes abnormalities, kidney failure, development of neurologic symptoms, abnormal clotting, and changes in blood pressure.
How can I prevent my dog for developing heatstroke?
It is essential for pet parents to be aware of the outside temperature and take appropriate measures to prevent their pets from developing heatstroke, especially during hot and humid conditions.
When your dog is spending time outdoors be sure that their space is well-ventilated with access to plenty of water and shade.
If your dog joins you on a car journey, be sure that your dog's crate has good ventilation, and never ever leave your dog in a car with the windows closed.