Tips to avoid heat stroke in dogs

Published 5:00am 2 January 2023

Tips to avoid heat stroke in dogs
Words by Moreton Daily
By Kylie Mackay, Northshore Pet Resort

As the days warm up, it is important to think about how the change in the climate can affect your household pets.

During the hottest Summer months in Australia, veterinarians see a significant spike in the number of cases of pets suffering from heat stroke.

This is a preventable condition, and often occurs because pet owners are not aware of how quickly a pet can overheat to the point that it becomes life threatening.

What is Heat Stroke?

Did you know that dogs and cats are not able to regulate their body temperature in the same way as humans? When humans get hot, their sweat glands release sweat which cools the skin as it evaporates and lowers the internal body temperature.

Dogs however, only have a few sweat glands located in their paw pads and around their nose, so their primary means of cooling themselves is by panting. Panting can only do so much, and if they continue to suffer the heat, hyperthermia occurs which can lead to heat stroke.

Heatstroke is a serious, life-threatening condition. Immediate treatment is required to avoid devastating outcomes.

Causes of Heat Stroke

Environmental conditions are the most obvious contributing factor, such as high temperatures, high humidity, no access to shade or drinking water, or being left in a closed garage or car.

Excessive exercise is also something to be aware of. Limit high intensity exercise on hot days to avoid them overheating, because chances are they won’t stop! Take them inside for more regular breaks, or give them doggie ice blocks to chew on as an alternative enrichment activity to prevent them running too much.

Dog breeds can also make certain dogs more susceptible to heat stroke. This includes brachycephalic breeds, or short-nosed and flat-faced animals such as pugs and bulldogs.

Signs and Symptoms if Heatstroke

  • High body temperature
  • Excessive panting, difficulty breathing
  • Change of gum colour
  • Increased heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Struggling to walk
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Treatment

Immediately remove your dog from the hot environment, and gradually lower their body temperature by wetting them down or placing them under a fan. Offer them water and take them to the vet immediately for treatment.

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