The Dangers of Heatstroke

Posted by Kylie Hildebrand on 5 January 2010 | 1 Comments


Dehydration and exposure to extreme temperatures can be lethal. Since our four-legged friends can't sweat they are much less efficient than we are at cooling down. Add to that a permanent fur coat and you can see that even mild days can be uncomfortably warm for dogs. It is best to leave your pet at home while running errands in your car during the summer months. Dogs with short snouts such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Rottweilers, or Pekingese have a harder time staying cool.

If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, make sure they have plenty of drinking water available and a shady place to rest (paddling pools are a great summer idea too!) A dog suffering from heatstroke will display several signs, including:

    The Dangers of Heatstroke
  • Rapid panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Very red or very pale gums
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Weakness
  • Coma
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhoea - sometimes with blood
  • Collapsing
  • Depression
  • Vomiting

What you should do: Remove the dog from the hot area immediately. Keep them still and lower the dogs' temperature by wetting him/her thoroughly, making sure you wet under the dog with cool water (for very small dogs, use lukewarm water), then increase air movement around him/her with a fan.

CAUTION: Using very cold water can actually be counterproductive. Cooling too quickly and especially allowing body temperature to become too low can cause other life-threatening medical conditions. Take your dog straight to your local vet even if the dog appears to be recovering. Your dog should still be examined since he/she may be dehydrated or have other complications.

Actions to prevent heatstroke:

  • Keep pets with predisposing conditions such as heart disease, obesity, older age, or breathing problems, cool and in the shade. Even normal activity for these pets can be harmful
  • Provide access to water at all times with large or self watering bowls
  • Do not leave your pet in a hot parked car even if you're in the shade or will only be gone a short time. The temperature inside a parked car can quickly reach up to 140 degrees
  • Make sure outside dogs have access to shade
  • On a hot day, restrict exercise such throwing a ball at the park, as too much exercise when the weather is very hot can be dangerous
  • Avoid places like the beach (very hot sand will burn between dogs toes as well as the pads) and especially concrete or asphalt areas where heat is reflected and there is no access to shade, during peak temperatures
  • Wetting down your dog with cool water or allowing him or her to swim can help maintain a normal body temperature
  • Move your dog to a cool area of the house. Air conditioning is one of the best ways to keep a dog cool, but is not always dependable
  • To provide a cooler environment, freeze water in soda bottles, or place ice and a small amount of water in several resealable food storage bags, then wrap them in a towel or tube sock. Place them on the floor for the dog to lay on. 'Cooling Mats' are also available from some stores


Information courtesy Amy Goodman-Gaszczak

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  • Thanks for that info, I'm sure a lot of people don't really think about this stuff from a dogs point of view.

    Posted by Sasha, 06/01/2010 3:54pm (9 years ago)

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