How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke Safety

How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke

During summer, you probably want to spend as much time in the fresh outdoors as possible. Having your favorite doggo in tow makes the experience that much sweeter but spending extra time outside does come with a few risks. When temperatures are hot, for example, your dog could experience heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. Fortunately, we can help you be a proactive pet parent to ensure your dog stays happy, healthy, and hydrated all summer long.

Heat Exhaustion Heat Stroke Safety Water Bowl

Signs of Dog Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke

As they say, knowledge is power. Knowing that dog heat exhaustion and heat stroke are even a thing is step number one in protecting your pet from falling ill. Understanding the potential signs and symptoms — so you know what to look for — also helps.

Basically, canine heat exhaustion is the precursor to heat stroke. If you think your dog is experiencing fatigue from the heat, then it’s important to act quickly so that things don’t escalate any further.

Signs of heat exhaustion in dogs include the following:

  • A tired dog is one of the first symptoms to watch for. A dog experiencing heat exhaustion will likely not feel like moving much (if at all).
  • Heavy panting. It looks like faster and deeper breaths than normal; it might even seem like your dog is struggling to breathe.
  • Increased thirst. If your dog is actively seeking water or overzealous when drinking water, it could be a sign of heat exhaustion.
  • Dehydration: This symptom can present in a number of different ways, including a dry/warm nose (versus cool and damp), sticky gums and/or gums that have become either paler or intensely red, drooling (especially if saliva looks thicker than usual), and a reduction in urine output.
  • Higher temperature: It can be tricky to tell what your dog’s temperature is without a thermometer, but if she feels warmer than usual to the touch, then overheating is a possibility.
  • Faster pulse: An increased pulse rate is another sign of heat exhaustion in dogs. Small dogs usually have a normal heartrate of 120 to 160 beats per minute, and medium to large dogs have a pulse rate of 60 to 120.

Signs of heat stroke in dogs

The more dangerous heat stroke can occur when dogs are exposed to extreme heat situations (such as being trapped in a hot car or building), or in cases when they’ve experienced an extended period of heat exhaustion without any relief. You’ll likely see all the above symptoms in moderate to extreme severity.

“For dogs suffering from heat stroke, temperatures are usually over 105 and vomiting and diarrhea are also common,” says Dr. Chris Roth, the in-house veterinarian for Pets Best Health Insurance. “Internal organ dysfunction can occur, including heart issues, seizures, bleeding issues, and other metabolic abnormalities.”

Other visible symptoms can include muscle tremors, signs of dizziness such as falling or bumping into things, and suddenly passing out.

Heat Exhaustion Heat Stroke Safety Ice

How to Prevent Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke

Prevention is actually pretty straight-forward: Keep your pups away from situations where they could overheat. Bear in mind that dogs have a harder time cooling off compared to humans since they don’t have sweat glands, so extra precaution is necessary.

Steer clear of the following and you should be good to go
  • Never keep your pet in an enclosed hot space, such as a car or non-cooled house. Cars are particularly notorious for overheating since they get dangerously hot in a matter of minutes without the A/C running. If you have errands to tend to during the summer, leave your pets at home or bring them inside the store.
  • Avoid extended playtime outside during the summer — especially midday when it’s hottest. Stick to no more than a couple hours at a time, give your dog plenty of access to shade, and be on the lookout for the early signs of overheating (such as thirst, fatigue, and panting) so you can head indoors, cool off and hydrate ASAP.
  • Don’t play outside when it’s really hot: As a rule of thumb, it’s best to stay indoors except for quick out-and-in potty usage once it’s over 90 degrees. As the American Kennel Club points out, “if you are hot, so is your dog.”
  • Carry water when you’re playing outside. A collapsible bowl and a water bottle are an easy addition to your arsenal and will help ensure your pup is getting enough H2O. At Rescue Pop we like the Gulpy Pet Water Dispenser because it conveniently combines water bottle and bowl in one easily portable unit.
Heat Exhaustion Heat Stroke Safety Sunglasses

What to Do if Your Dog is Experiencing Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke

“If your dog is experiencing heat exhaustion, minimal treatment is needed. What’s most important is getting your dog proper hydration and into to a cool environment,” notes Dr. Roth.

She adds, “Heat stroke, on the other hand, is a true veterinary emergency and the pet should be seen right way by a veterinarian. Immediately provide active cooling, with cool water and evaporation — but never put ice packs on the dog. Heat stroke can lead to a multitude of life-threatening complications, so act quickly.”

Now that you know that heat exhaustion and heat stroke in dogs are a real concern — and what signs to look for — you’ve shielded your pup from that becoming a reality. Have fun this summer and keep cool and hydrated!

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