With summer now in full flow and the temperatures getting hotter day by day, it’s essential that dog owners the length and breadth of the country know the signs of heatstroke in dogs so they can react accordingly if their pup does start to display concerning symptoms.
Unlike people, dogs are unable to sweat through their skin so they have to rely on panting and releasing body heat through their nose and paw pads. This helps regulate their body temperature and keep themselves cool.
However, when they get too hot they are unable to cool down through panting alone, which can quickly turn into heatstroke if you’re not careful – and this can be fatal.
As such, it’s vital that you know what symptoms to keep an eye out for so you can get them to a vet as soon as possible.
Excessive drooling, heavy panting, difficulty breathing, collapse, vomiting, lethargy, drowsiness and lack of coordination are all signs of heatstroke, so watch out for these.
Some dogs are also more at risk, such as very old or very young dogs, as well as those with very short flat faces (such as pugs and French bulldogs) and dogs with thick coats. Some medications and certain diseases can also increase the risks.
If you’re worried that your dog may be suffering from heatstroke, move them to a cool area with lots of shade and pour cool water over them. Don’t pour cold water over them, as this can lead to shock, although if it’s a real emergency, any water is better than none. Avoid wetting towels and putting them on your dog, as this can trap heat and make it worse.
Give your dog small amounts of cool water to drink and continue pouring water over them until their breathing starts to return to normal. If your dog has lost consciousness, it will stop panting but its temperature will still be high, so prioritise urgent aggressive cooling but don’t pour it over their head, as they may inhale water and this can lead to drowning.
To prevent heatstroke in the first place, don’t walk your dog between 11am and 3pm, which is the hottest time of day. And always make sure you don’t leave your dog in a hot car by itself, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.
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