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Heatstroke in Dogs: Symptoms & What to do

Heatstroke is a scary and sometimes scary condition, but did you know it can happen to dogs, too? Here, our Springfield vets go over the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs and what you can do about it.

What is Heatstroke in Dogs?

Heatstroke, a.k.a. heat exhaustion, is a serious and potentially fatal issue for dogs. When a dog’s body temperature is elevated above a normal range (101.5°F), hyperthermia can occur.

A heatstroke is a form of hyperthermia. It happens when your dog’s body is overwhelmed by excessive heat and can't regulate back to a normal temperature. When your dog's body temperature rises past 104°F, they are in danger. If body temperature is above 105°F, this indicates heatstroke.

What Causes of Heatstroke in Dogs?

A sadly common cause of heatstroke in dogs is people leaving their dogs in the car. On summer days, a vehicle's temperature can quickly exceed dangerous levels. Leave the dog at home while you shop.

A lack of access to water and shade in your backyard or at the beach can also spell trouble. Shade and water are vital on warm weather days, especially for dogs with medical conditions such as obesity, and senior dogs.

Each dog requires close supervision, especially on days when the mercury is rising.

Heatstroke Symptoms in Dogs

During the hot months, keep an eye out for the following signs in your dog:

  • Collapsing or loss of consciousness
  • Diarrhea
  • Mental “dullness” or flatness
  • Red gums
  • Excessive panting
  • Signs of discomfort
  • Unable or unwilling to move (or uncoordinated movement)
  • Vomiting

If you notice any of these symptoms of heatstroke in your dog, contact your veterinarian right away.

What To Do If Your Dog Shows Signs of Heatstroke

Fortunately, heatstroke in dogs can be reversed if detected early. Immediately take them to a cooler place with good air circulation if you notice your dog displaying any symptoms listed above. If symptoms do not improve quickly, contact your vet immediately for advice. 

Take your dog’s temperature if you have access to a rectal thermometer.

If their temperature is above 104°F, this qualifies as an emergency and your dog will need to see a vet.

If this temperature is above 105°F, immediately hose or sponge your dog’s body with cool (not cold) water. Contact your vet or your nearest emergency vet for further instructions.

If you are unable to reduce or take your dog's temperature, take them to the vet right away anyway to eliminate risk.

How to Avoid Getting Heatstroke

To help prevent your dog from getting heatstroke be very cautious about how much time your dog spends outside or in the sun during the summer. 

NEVER leave your dog in a car with closed windows - even if you park in the shade.

Don't leave your dog in the car with the windows open a little bit. It still gets way too hot in the car for your dog.

Make sure your dog has shade to retreat to and easy access to cool water.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed signs of heatstroke in your dog? Contact our Springfield veterinarians right away.

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The Regional Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients in emergency situations or by referral! Our experienced specialists are passionate about the health of Springfield pets. Contact us today to learn more.

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