Heatstroke in Dogs: Unraveling the Danger and Defense

Who doesn’t enjoy spending time outdoors on a bright sunny day? Feels great? It’s the same for dogs too, they do enjoy spending time out of doors. But plenty of sun exposure in the summer months can be fatal.

Going for a short trip with your fur baby to the countryside, mountains, or even if it’s your garden is fun. But you must know some of the most significant risks your dog will face during the summer heat.

What is Heatstroke in dogs?

Heat stroke in dogs, otherwise called hyperthermia, occurs when their body temperature exceeds 103°F (39.4°C). Exposure to excessive external or environmental heat causes heatstroke in dogs.

Also Read: The Hidden Risks of Temperature Changes for Pets: What You Need to Know

Too much heat leads to organ failure and can kill your Fido before you provide him with first aid. As a pet owner, you should take care of your fur baby when he/she is out in the summer for an extended period.

What causes Heatstroke in dogs?

Heat stroke is common among dogs during the summer, especially in hot and humid climates. Not only for us, but even animals also can’t withstand this without shade. This means your pets are less efficient at regulating heat and body temperature. It can affect dogs of any age, breed, or gender. So keep an extra eye on your fur babies to protect them from Heat stroke.

The main reason for this is they can’t sweat off, so panting delivers an instant exchange of outside air. This reciprocity keeps your dog’s temperature regular. Sometimes when the outside air comes the same or greater than your pet’s temperature, there’s a possibility of Heatstroke.

You might be walking or playing with your dog outside, and in most cases, you may not feel overheated on a warm sunny day, but your dog’s body temperature could be rising.

Not only direct sun exposure but also Dogs left in RVs and Cars with or without the windows shut is one of the leading causes of sunstroke in dogs.

1. Never leave your dog in a car parked under direct sunlight.

2. Get smart and use a pet monitor to check the temperature and monitor your dog.

3. Carry additional bottles of drinking and splashing water.

4. Plan exercises and other outdoor activities when the outside temperature is cool.

5. Give immediate first-aid if your dog is showing any signs of heat stress.

Regardless of the temperature, always monitor your dog for signs of Heatstroke.

Heat stroke vs. Heat exhaustion in dogs

Hyperthermia is the term used to describe heat elevation in a body. Three types of hyperthermia are Heat Stress, Heat Exhaustion, and Heatstroke are three types of hyperthermia. They are used interchangeably, but their conditions differ. Heat exhaustion is the milder version of heatstroke.

Body temperature not above 104°F, pets affected with heat exhaustion can still walk, panting, and dehydrated.

Heat stress is a mild heat-related illness. At this stage, the dog shows signs like increased thirst and panting. If the condition prevails for long, it will progress to heat exhaustion.

Dogs affected by heat stress show visible signs like increased heartbeat rate, dry or sticky gums, unusual color gums, lethargy, disorientation in walking, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and seizure sometimes. This gradually transforms into Heatstroke.

Types of heatstroke in dogs

Exertional Heatstroke: It results from exposure to an extremely hot and highly humid environment.

Non-Exertional Heatstroke: Also called classic heatstroke, this type can occur due to age factors or underlying dog health conditions.

Also Read: What are safe outdoor temperatures for dogs?

Signs of Heat stroke in dogs

Signs of a light Heat stroke are a body temperature of 104 to 106 degrees. Sometimes excessive panting and other signs of discomfort show overheating in dogs. Bright red gums and thick saliva are the other common signs. When your fur kid’s temperature rises above 1060F, there are chances for his gums to become pale, act dizzy, bleed from the nose, dehydration, vomit, and even have diarrhea.

Some of the commonly seen and important heat stroke symptoms in dogs are,

1. Panting / Rapid Breathing
Excessive panting is the primary sign of Heatstroke. It’s how a dog cools down his/her body temperature. Excessive panting in older dogs dramatically differs from the panting condition in puppies.

Also Read: Heatstroke in puppies symptoms

2. Excessive Drooling
Other than Panting, creating excess saliva helps your dog handle heat better.

3. Needing frequent breaks and inactive
If your dog shows this sign, it’s clear that your dog is feeling the effects of heat.

4. The rise in body temperature
You must check this, confirm that your dog’s body temperature is not above 103F or 39c, and ensure he/she is healthy.

5. Irregular heartbeat
If you observe your dog overheated symptoms, take him immediately to the vet to avoid any potential risks.

6. Dullness or Loss of Consciousness
Your fur baby looks dull and inactive for an extended period lying somewhere. You’ll think he/she is tired, but the reason might differ.

7. Walking drunk
If you see him/her walking with a loss of balance, give him plenty of water and take him/her to a vet with no further delay.

Also Read: 11 Crazy Tricks to Get Your Dog to Drink More Water

How long does heat stroke in dogs last?

Neurological Dysfunction: Heat damage can lead to seizures, coordination problems, personality changes, and cognitive issues, developing over weeks to months.

Organ Damage: Permanently damaging the heart, liver, and kidneys, potentially causing chronic diseases and impacting the dog's lifespan.

Heat Sensitivity: Increased sensitivity to high temperatures, making the dog more prone to heat-related illnesses in the future.

Gastrointestinal Issues: Severe heat stroke can damage the gastrointestinal tract lining, leading to long-term problems like chronic diarrhea or vomiting.

Also Read: How to improve your dog's gut health?

Heat stroke in dogs treatment at home:

You must bring your dog’s body temperature down to 102F or less, which is the most important part of rushing the pet to the emergency clinic. But if the condition is severe, then they need veterinary attention.

Some of the common dog heat stroke first aid methods are:

1. Lay them down on a wet towel or a pack of ice.

2. Add more ice cubes to their water

3. Use a shade screen or let them lie in the shade

4. Give him a cool bath, not too cold.

5. Bring your dog into an airy space and turn on the fan.

6. Rehydrate your dog by offering ice cubes to lick or energy drinks to drink.

7. Wrap him/her in cold, wet towels for some time.

8. Soak the pet in cold water from the hose.

Dog Heat Stroke Recovery

The recovery period is based on the intensity of the Heat stroke. But in most cases, there’s no permanent recovery. Heat strokes result in permanent organ damage or anything severe that is not recoverable, and your dog may be disabled for lifelong.

Once your dog gets discharged from the veterinary clinic, it may request a follow-up appointment for a regular checkup. And observing your dog at home for any pernicious signs is vital.

There’s an increased risk of developing Heat stroke again after some time or in the future. Hyperthermia is not a simple thing, it can spoil the life of your fur kid, so keep an extra eye to watch your four-legged family member.

And if it’s a mild Heat stroke, then your Fido can recover in a few days to a couple of weeks. However, it is advised to reduce the number of outside exercises, walks, and other activities.

Heat stroke in dogs - Aftercare

Heat stroke is often preventable. It is crucial to watch for the causes and signs of Heat stroke in dogs. In many cases, without complicated health problems, most dogs will recover. But severe cases of Hyperthermia lead to organ failure and other fatal issues. So, your dog might need a special diet prescribed by a veterinarian and ongoing care to recover soon. In exceptional cases, your dog can suffer some after-effects including irregular heartbeats and seizures.

There’s an increased risk of developing Heat stroke again after some time or in the future. Hyperthermia is not a simple thing, it can spoil the life of your fur kid, so keep an extra eye to watch your four-legged family member.

1. Keep your Fido in a cool space and avoid rooms with poor ventilation.

2. Avoid arduous exercises and other activities

3. Carry a Pet Temperature Monitor to ensure your pet is always in the safe zone.

4. Do not leave your dog in the basement or other areas with excessive heat.

5. Avoid going out or spending time on a warm sunny day.

6. Provide sufficient shade and water when going out.

7. Your love, touch and care work well most of the time.

8. Carry Additional water bottles to splash when you think he/she is overheating.

9. Move your Fido into an Air Conditioned room in the summer months.

10. And finally, keep him at a good temperature always.

Can heat stroke cause death in dogs?

Hundreds of Dogs died last year in the United States endured heating-related illness and hyperthermia. Try visiting any nearby veterinarian hospital to know more about the reported cases. Dogs, Cats, and even other animals are dying every year being left outside in the summer months or in hot cars/RVs. And those numbers are just the ones that were reported.

It can affect any dog regardless of breed, age, and gender. Even a fit or athletic dog can suffer hyperthermia or other heat-related illness. Some dogs with weak immune are at even greater risk.

How to prevent heatstroke in dogs?

There are numerous amount of preventive measures to avoid sunstroke. Some commonly followed methods are providing enough water and avoiding spending time outdoors when temperatures rise.

Do not let your dog go out when you feel hot and humid outside, if not provide shaded areas. But these common prevention methods are often not enough to save your Fido from heat.

Follow these guidelines to prevent Heat stroke,

1. Providing access to water anytime is the most important thing.

2. Feed them summer foods that can keep their body cool and appropriate for the hot climate.

3. Keep your dog indoors during the summer months or at extreme temperatures.

4. Use a Pet Monitor to check the temperature anytime and get alerts.

5. Carry additional bottles of drinking and splashing water.

6. Do not cage your dog outdoors without enough shade and water.

7. Avoid playing with your dog outdoors or over-exercising when the temperature is at its extreme or in the summer months.

8. Never leave your dog in rooms with poor ventilation.

9. Monitor the ambient temperature while you leave your pet in a car/RV.

10. Wetting down your dog regularly with cool water is a great idea.

What dogs are at high risk for heat stroke?

1. Chow chow
2. Bulldog
3. French bulldog
4. Dogue de Bordeaux
5. Greyhound
6. Cavalier King Charles spaniel
7. Golden retriever
8. Pug
9. Springer Spaniel

An overview

1. Dogs with thick fur or coat.
2. Dogs with overweight and obese.
3. Dogs in age extremes - Very young or very old.
4. Dogs with poor immunity.
5. Dogs with restricted access to water.
6. Dogs with short noses or Brachycephalic breeds.
7. Dogs with poor heart/lung condition.

Waggle Pet Monitor - Your Dog’s Saviour!

Like most health-related problems, Dog Heat stroke can also be avoided with the help of ever-growing technology.

If you are a pet traveler, or a dog parent at home, you may take advantage of pet protection monitors that constantly monitor your dog’s environment temperature. They send alerts to your mobile/email when the surrounding or room temperature of your doggo goes above or below the range you set. This is a real lifesaver as it helps you save pets or dogs from heatstroke and frostbite.