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  • Writer's pictureJessica Schwarz

Heat Stroke in Dogs

In this heat advisory, would you be able to recognize the signs of heat stroke in your dog? Dogs are much more sensitive to heat than we are because of their very limited ability to sweat. They regulate their temperature by panting, drinking water and resting. For that reason, it’s important to monitor them for signs of distress on these hot summer days.


Heavy panting, excessive drooling, difficulty breathing, abnormal gum color, vomiting, diarrhea, altered mental state, lack of coordination and collapse are a few signs that your pet needs immediate veterinary care.


- Carry your dog to a cooler location if possible. Ideally, this would be indoors, a car with the air conditioning running or a shaded area with good airflow.

- Help lower their body temperature by applying lukewarm or cool water (never cold) to their legs, paws, ears and tail. A stream of water is preferable. If you are using a soaked wash cloth or towel do not leave it draped over their body or it may trap heat.

- Place them on a tile floor in front of a fan to aid in evaporative cooling.

- Monitor their body temperature until it lowers to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Normal temperature for a dog is 99.5 - 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, efforts to cool them should be stopped to avoid lowering their temperature too much.

- Provide a small amount of lukewarm or cool water for them to drink (not cold).

- Call your veterinarian or an emergency hospital as soon as possible. Even if your dog appears to be improving, your vet should monitor them for serious internal complications.

TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR DOG FROM THIS EMERGENCY SITUATION - It’s safer to leave them at home on warm days. Even when the weather seems mild, the temperature within your car will rise very quickly (even with the windows down). For example, on an 80-degree day, it will only take about 10 minutes for the temperature within your car to reach 100 degrees.

- Keep the air conditioning or fans running inside your house even when you leave for the day. Just as your car can heat up quickly, so can your house.

- Ask your veterinarian and groomer for advice about care for thick or long coated dogs. It may be beneficial to shave or trim their coat during summer months.

- Limit outdoor time, especially during the hottest hours of the day. When they have to be outside, make sure they have shaded areas and plenty of fresh water available.

- If your dog needs exercise on a hot day, take them swimming, let them walk in a clean stream or fill up a kiddie pool (just make sure they’re always supervised).

- Adjust their walk schedule to early morning or evening to avoid the hot sun. Bring some water with you, take frequent breaks in the shade and slow the pace of your walk.

- Be aware of qualities that may make your dog more susceptible to heatstroke. Pets who are elderly, overweight, have preexisting conditions (heart disease) and short-snouted breeds (Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, etc.) are all at risk.

Let's keep those babies safe!


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