The normal temperature of dogs is hotter than humans. A dog’s normal temperature runs between 101-102.5 degrees, making the ambient temperate seem hotter to them that it is to us. And, while humans can sweat to help eliminate heat from our bodies, dogs are not able to do this. Dogs eliminate heat by panting. When panting isn’t enough though, a dog’s body temperature will rise and they can start to suffer from heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. If not treated immediately, a heat stroke can be fatal.
What causes heat stroke in dogs?
Any hot environment can cause heat stroke in dogs. The most common causes are a dog being left in a car or a dog being in hot outdoor temperatures for too long.
Some dogs are more prone to heat stroke than others, such as dogs with thick fur, Brachycephalic dogs (those with short noses), and those suffering from medical conditions. Even dogs who enjoy constant play and exercise can suffer from heat stroke on hot and humid days.
What are the symptoms of dog heat stroke?
The most telling symptom of heat stroke in dogs is excessive panting. You should also watch for reddened gums or tongue, drooling, vomiting, higher heart rates, or trouble maintaining their balance. They may even have a seizure or collapse.
Heat stroke in dogs can indicate a serious medical problem and cause unseen problems, such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and abnormal clotting of blood. For this reason, immediate veterinary care is highly recommended if your dog is exhibiting signs of heat stroke.
What steps should I take if I think my dog is having a heat stroke?
You should contact your veterinarian or the closest emergency animal hospital and tell them you are on your way with an overheated dog. On your way to the clinic, open the windows and ensure the air conditioner on.
Until you can get to the veterinarian, be sure to:
- Remove the dog from the hot environment immediately.
- Provide cool water and allow your dog to drink as much as they want, but do not force them to drink.
- Help your dog cool off by pouring cool, not cold, water over their body, not their head, or by placing a towel soaked in cool water on their back. Do this until they cool, but make sure they are not shivering.
- DO NOT try to give your dog any medications in an attempt to lower their temperature as this could lead to other problems.
The best way to prevent your dog from suffering a heat stroke is to avoid taking them out, even for walks, when the temperatures are hot and humid. If you do have to have your dog with you outside when it is hot, be sure to have cool water available for them and limit the amount of time they have to be outside.