How to Tell if Your Dog Has Heat Stroke

Here, our Apple Valley vets explain what heat stroke in dogs is, provide a list of symptoms for dog owners to keep an eye out for and give some advice about what you should do if you have noticed symptoms of heat stroke in your pup.

What is heat stroke in dogs?

When the heat arrives with summer, heat stroke, or heat exhaustion, can be a serious—and sometimes even fatal—health condition that can affect our canine companions. Also called hyperthermia, heat stroke sets into your dog's body when their temperature is raised above its normal range. The threshold for this is usually 101.5°F.

heat stroke, or heat exhaustion, is a form of hyperthermia. It occurs when excessive heat overwhelms your dog’s heat-dissipating mechanisms in his or her body. When their body temperature rises past 104°F, he enters the danger zone. If body temperature is above 105°F, this is indicative of heat stroke.

Because of this, we need to make sure that our pups stay as cool and comfortable as possible throughout the summer months. 

What causes heat stroke in dogs?

On hot summer days, temperatures in enclosed spaces like vehicles can rise to dangerous levels for our dogs quite quickly. Even when things don't seem too hot for us as people, our dogs have a coat of fur that means they won't handle the heat quite as well. Because of this, make sure you leave your pup at home while you're going out shopping. 

If your backyard doesn't offer much shade, that can also mean trouble if your pup likes to spend lots of time out there. Water and shade are incredibly important when it comes to regulating your dog;'s temperature on warm days, especially when your dog suffers from a medical condition or is getting up there in years.

Your dog's breed may also be a contributing factor; short-nosed, flat-faced canines tend to be more susceptible to breathing problems. As you might imagine, thick coats become uncomfortable much quicker. Each dog (even ones who are eager to engage in activities and time outside) needs close supervision, especially on days when the temperature rises.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke in dogs?

during the spring and summer months, make sure you're keeping a close eye on your pup for signs and symptoms of heat stroke, including:

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

What should I do if my dog is suffering from heat stroke?

Fortunately for our four-legged friends, heat stroke can be reversed in dogs if their owners are able to catch it early. If you notice that your dog is showing any of the symptoms we've listed above, bring them to a cooler place with good air circulation as soon as possible. If their symptoms don't improve rapidly and you aren't able to confirm your pup's temperature, bring them into a vet for immediate emergency care

If you have a rectal thermometer on hand, take your dog's temperature once you've gotten them out of the sun. If you notice that their body temperature is at or above 105°F, sponge or hose them off with a cool (but not cold) source of water. Make sure to pay special attention to their abdomen when doing this. Fans may also be helpful. 

After a few minutes, retake his temperature until it gets down to 103°F. Do not reduce the temperature below 103°F, as this can also lead to problems. Take your dog to a veterinarian immediately whether you are able to reduce his temperature or not.

How can I prevent heat stroke?

B exceedingly cautious about how much time your four-legged friend is able to spend outside in the sun during the summer and late spring. Avoid exposing your dog to both heat and high humidity too. Dogs (especially those with short or flat faces) aren't able to handle it as well as we are, and even we can get uncomfortable or develop heat stroke in summer conditions. 

NEVER leave your dog in a car with closed windows - even if you park in the shade. Provide your pooch with lots of shade to retreat to and easy access to cool water. A well-ventilated dog crate or specially designed seat belt for dogs may also work well.

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 your dog showing signs of heat stroke after spending some time in the heat. Bear Valley Animal Hospital is able to provide urgent and emergency care to pets during our regular hospital hours. Contact us today