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Signs of a heat stroke in dogs: learn about its causes and symptoms!

Yorkshire dog drinking water
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Dogs eliminate their heat by panting and through sweat glands in their footpads. But, heat may be too much. Learn about signs of a heat stroke in dogs

By Daniel Mar

Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:53

Dogs don’t really like the heat any more than humans do. In fact, hot days can be very dangerous for your pet. It is important to remember that dogs don’t sweat in the same way that people do. This means that they can get overheated in a matter of minutes! This inevitably leads to heat strokes and other harmful conditions. It is necessary that every dog owner (that lives in a warm climate) knows the signs of a heat stroke in dogs.

What causes the most common signs of a heat stroke in dogs?

Warm climate can cause signs of heat stroke in dogs. Nonetheless, the most common cause is a dog owner’s lack of care towards his pet. There are cases when pet owners leave their dogs in the car whenever they go shopping. Other times, they forget to provide fresh water and shade to dogs that are outdoors.

Like with most canine diseases, there are some dogs which are more prone to developing heat exhaustion. For instance, this often happens to dogs who are older, fat or brachycephalic (flat-faced dog breeds). As the pet parent, it is your obligation to be aware of the ambient temperature and make sure that it is appropriate for your dog.

Furthermore, dog owners need to be very watchful of dogs with thick fur since they are predisposed to heatstroke. With this in mind, it is advisable to know about the most common signs of a heat stroke in dogs.

Common signs of a heat stroke in dogs

Heat strokes can be fatal. Knowing about the signs of a heat stroke in dogs can be life-saving. Here you have a list of the most common signs:

  1. Irregular Heart Beat: A fast heartbeat is a sign your dog could be overheating. An increased heart rate is the body’s way of pumping as much warm blood to the extremities (towards the pads) and away from a vital organ. If you believe that your dog has tachycardia, go to the vet at once. This is one of the most common signs of a heat stroke in dogs.
  2. Lethargy: Among the most frequent signs of a heat stroke in dogs is lethargy/fatigue. It is not normal when dogs feel like taking frequent breaks from their daily activities or lying down (without doing exercise) every so often. This means that he is feeling the effects of the heat! If this happens, you need to give him some time to recover and drink fresh water. If your dog collapses, immediately wet his coat with water and go to the vet.
  3. Excessive Drooling: when dogs are feeling hot, they tend to drool excessively. That is why excessive drooling is among the most important signs of a heat stroke in dogs. Dogs create excess saliva to dissipate heat better.
  4. Heavy Panting: a dog’s primary way to cool off is through panting. However, when suffering a heat stroke, dogs fully open their mouth and pant more than usual. Sometimes, you may observe a swollen tongue hanging out to the side.

After seeing all the symptoms of a heat stroke in dogs, how do you treat it?

First and foremost, you need to remove your dog from the hot environment that caused the heat stroke. Also, do not give your dog aspirin as it will lower its body temperature and can cause more issues. Likewise, if your dog’s unconscious, do not attempt to force water into the mouth or nose! Just follow the next list of steps:

  • Place your dog in a bathtub full of fresh water. You can also get a hose and spray water on your pet.
  • Put your dog in a shower. Pour sufficient water in the back of the head and neck. Watch out for his ears and nose.
  • When doing all of this, do not submerge your dog’s head in the water. You do not want to cause aspiration pneumonia.
  • After you have lowered your dog’s body heat, call your vet, and take your dog to the nearest clinic.
  • Give your dog cool (not cold) water as much as you can throughout the whole process.

How to prevent the signs of a heat stroke in dogs?

If your dog hasn’t suffered a heat stroke but the ambient temperature is dangerously rising, keep a constant watch. When possible, follow these tips:

  • Check your pet for signs of shock.
  • Take your dog rectal temperature every five minutes. If your dog’s temperature exceeds 40 °C, he is in trouble.
  • Make sure you have fresh water at his reach and do not let him go under the sun.

Heat strokes can be prevented. Just make sure not to expose a dog to very hot and humid conditions. This is even more important in dogs with airway diseases in the case of breeds with shortened faces. It is important to know the signs of a heat stroke in dogs.