Summer is here, and you and your furry buddy are ready for some fun and adventure. But you also need to be careful because summer means more heat and humidity, which can be dangerous for your dog. Dogs can easily get too hot and suffer from heat stroke, a serious condition that can hurt their organs and brain and even kill them.
In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about heat stroke in dogs: what it is, what signs to look for, how to prevent it, and what to do if your dog has it. We’ll also answer some common questions that you may have about this condition.
What Is Heat Stroke in Dogs?
Heat stroke is when your dog’s body temperature gets too high, and they can’t cool down. It happens when your dog is exposed to too much heat or exercise in hot or humid weather. A dog’s normal body temperature is around 101 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit (38 to 39 degrees Celsius), but if it goes above 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius), they’re in trouble.
When your dog’s body temperature gets too high, their brain can’t control their cooling system properly. Their blood vessels get wider to try to release heat, but this also lowers their blood pressure and blood flow to their vital organs. Their cells start to break down and release harmful substances into their blood, causing inflammation and tissue damage. Their body also makes special proteins called heat shock proteins, which are supposed to protect their cells from stress but can also trigger an immune reaction that makes things worse.
Heat stroke can affect almost every part of your dog’s body, such as:
- Brain: Heat stroke can cause swelling, bleeding, and cell death in the brain, leading to problems like seizures, coma, and brain damage.
- Heart: Heat stroke can cause irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and cardiac arrest.
- Lungs: Heat stroke can cause fluid buildup, bleeding, and inflammation in the lungs, leading to breathing problems and failure.
- Kidneys: Heat stroke can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and low blood flow to the kidneys, leading to kidney failure and urine retention.
- Liver: Heat stroke can cause liver damage and failure, resulting in yellow skin or eyes (jaundice), bleeding problems, and toxin buildup.
- Stomach and intestines: Heat stroke can cause ulcers, bleeding, and holes in the stomach and intestines, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, shock, and infection.
- Blood: Heat stroke can cause clotting problems and a condition called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), which is when small blood clots form all over the body and block blood flow to vital organs.
- Skin: Heat stroke can cause burns, blisters, dead tissue (necrosis), and infection in the skin.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke can cause different signs in different dogs depending on how severe it is and what parts of their body are affected. But some of the common signs are:
- Panting a lot
- Drooling a lot
- Red gums
- Dry or sticky gums
- Glassy eyes
- Being tired or weak
- Being confused or dizzy
- Throwing up or having diarrhea
- Bleeding from the nose or mouth
- Shaking or twitching
- Falling over or passing out
If you see any of these signs in your dog, you need to act fast and get them help right away. Heat stroke is an emergency that can kill your dog if not treated quickly.
How Can I Prevent Heat Stroke in My Dog?
The best way to prevent heat stroke in your dog is to avoid putting them in situations where they can get too hot. Here are some tips to keep your dog cool and comfortable during the summer:
- Give your dog plenty of fresh water all the time. You can also add ice cubes or frozen treats to their water bowl to help them cool down.
- Give your dog enough shade if they are outside. Stay away from direct sunlight and hot surfaces like asphalt or metal that can burn their paws.
- Never leave your dog in a parked car, even with the windows cracked. The temperature inside a car can go up really fast and become deadly for your dog in minutes.
- Don’t make your dog exercise too much or force them to do things they don’t want to do in the heat. Limit their physical activity to the cooler times of the day, like early morning or evening. Let them rest and drink water often.
- Use cooling mats, fans, or air conditioning to help your dog regulate their body temperature. You can also spray them with water or a hose but don’t use ice or cold water, as this can shock them or make their blood vessels smaller.
- Watch your dog for signs of heat stress, which is a mild form of overheating that can turn into heat stroke if not taken care of. Signs of heat stress are panting, drooling, restlessness, and fast heart rate. If you see these signs, take your dog to a cool place and give them water. If they don’t get better, call your vet.
- Know if your dog is more likely to get heat stroke, and be extra careful if they are. Some dogs are more at risk of heat stroke than others, such as:
- Dogs with short noses and flat faces (brachycephalic breeds), like pugs, bulldogs, boxers, and shih tzus. They have trouble breathing and cooling themselves because of their narrow airways and small surface area for heat exchange.
- Older dogs (over 7 years old). They have a harder time coping with heat because of their age-related changes in metabolism, organ function, and immune system.
- Young dogs (under 6 months old). They have immature cooling systems, are more likely to get dehydrated, and have electrolyte problems.
- Fat dogs (with a body condition score of 6 or higher on a scale of 1 to 9). They have extra body fat that acts like a blanket and keeps them from losing heat. They also have less breathing and heart capacity because of their weight.
- Sick dogs or dogs on certain medications. They have medical conditions or drugs that affect their ability to regulate their body temperature, such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, thyroid disease, or neurological disease.
What Should I Do If My Dog Has Heat Stroke?
If you think your dog has heat stroke, you should do these things:
- Get your dog out of the heat and into a cool place with good airflow.
- Check your dog’s temperature using a thermometer in their butt. You need to lower it slowly and carefully if it’s above 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius). Don’t use ice or cold water, as this can shock them or make their blood vessels smaller.
- Pour cool (not cold) water over your dog’s body, especially their head, neck, chest, and belly. Wet towels or a fan can help the water evaporate and cool your dog down. Don’t cover your dog with wet towels; this can trap heat and stop evaporation.
- Give your dog small sips of water to drink if they’re awake and able to swallow. Don’t force them to drink or give them anything else by mouth, as this can make them choke or throw up.
- Check your dog’s temperature every 5 minutes until it goes below 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius). Then stop the cooling process and dry your dog off to prevent low body temperature (hypothermia).
- Take your dog to the closest vet hospital as soon as possible, even if they get better. Heat stroke can cause problems that may not show up until later.
Your dog will get more treatment at the vet hospital depending on how bad their condition is and what parts of their body are affected. This may include:
- Fluids and electrolytes through a vein to fix dehydration and shock
- Oxygen to help with breathing and oxygen delivery
- Drugs to control blood pressure, heart rate, clotting, inflammation, and seizures
- Blood tests to check organ function and damage
- Urine tests to check kidney function and urine output
- X-rays or ultrasounds to look at the lungs, heart, belly, and brain
- Cooling devices or blankets to keep a normal body temperature
- Antibiotics to prevent or treat infection
- Blood transfusion or dialysis to remove harmful substances from the blood
- Surgery to fix holes or bleeding in the stomach or intestines
How well your dog recovers from heat stroke depends on many things, like how long and how high their temperature was, how much organ damage they have, how well they respond to treatment, and if they have any other health problems. Some dogs may get better in a few days or weeks with proper care and medicine, while others may need longer stay or intensive care. Some dogs may also have lasting problems or disabilities that need lifelong care or support.
Wrapping It Up
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that needs quick action to save your dog’s life. By following these tips and guidelines, you can keep your dog safe from heat stroke and enjoy the summer with them. Remember, if you’re not sure, always ask your vet for advice and help. They are your best friend in taking care of your dog’s health.
We hope you found this blog post helpful and informative. If you did, please share it with your friends and family who have dogs or love dogs. And don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more tips and tricks on how to keep your dog happy and healthy. Thanks for reading!
Some Questions You May Have About Heat Stroke in Dogs
Here are some questions that you may have about heat stroke in dogs:
Q: How do I know if my dog is just panting or overheating?
A: Panting is normal for dogs to cool themselves by letting out moisture from their tongue and mouth. But if your dog is panting a lot, fast, loud, or uncomfortable, or stressed, they may be overheating and at risk of heat stroke. You should check their temperature, take them to a cool place, and give them water. If their temperature is above 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius), you should follow the steps for treating heat stroke and get them to the vet right away.
Q: Can heat stroke make my dog go blind?
A: Yes, heat stroke can make your dog go blind because of the damage to the retina, which is the part of the eye that senses light. The retina can get detached or damaged because of the low blood flow and oxygen and the inflammation and toxins that happen during heat stroke. Blindness can be temporary or permanent depending on how bad and how long the damage is.
Q: Can heat stroke make my dog lose their hair?
A: Yes, heat stroke can make your dog lose their hair because of the damage to the skin and hair follicles. The skin can get burned, blistered, dead (necrotic), or infected because of the high temperature, low blood flow, and immune function. The hair follicles can also get damaged or destroyed because of the inflammation and toxins that happen during heat stroke. Hair loss can be patchy or all over, depending on how much damage there is.
Q: How long does it take for my dog to recover from heat stroke?
A: The recovery time for your dog from heat stroke depends on many things, like how bad and how long their temperature was, how much organ damage they have, how well they respond to treatment, and if they have any other health problems. Some dogs may get better in a few days or weeks with proper care and medicine, while others may need longer stay or intensive care. Some dogs may also have lasting problems or disabilities that need lifelong care or support.