Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs and How to Prevent Them

 

During hot summer months, the local news often warns people against heat stroke. Our bodies can become overwhelmed from exposure to heat and humidity. Experts advise taking breaks under the shade and drinking a lot of water. On incredibly hot days, they suggest staying indoors in the A/C as much as possible. 

Depending on where you live, heat stroke can be a risk throughout the year or just for a few months in the summer. You may be surprised to learn that heat stroke can affect animals just as quickly as it can affect humans! Learn how to recognize the signs of heat stroke in dogs. 

What is Heat Stroke? 

Heat stroke occurs when your body temperature reaches 104 degrees or higher. This can happen when you’re outside in the hot sun for too long. If left untreated, heat stroke can cause damage to your internal organs. Your brain, heart, and kidneys are especially vulnerable in the event of heat stroke. 

In humans, symptoms of heat stroke present in some of the following ways:

  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Slurred speech

If a person suspects they have heat stroke, they should seek medical help immediately. But what about if you suspect your dog has this dangerous condition?

What Are the Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs?

Your dog’s fur color may make them more susceptible to heat stroke. Dogs with black fur are at a higher risk of heat stroke than other dogs. Additionally, canines with a lot of fur, such as Saint Bernards, can overheat quickly. 

Lack of fresh water and shade on hot days can lead to a dog suffering from heat stroke. Taking a dog on a hike might seem like a great activity, but the day’s heat index should be considered. 

Unlike humans, dogs can’t tell us when they are feeling ill. But they will likely display external symptoms that can help you diagnose heat stroke. The most recognizable signs of heat exhaustion in dogs include: 

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Dry nose
  • Unresponsive, particularly if laying down 
  • Staggering
  • Vomiting

Untreated heat stroke can lead to seizures or death in dogs. 

How to Prevent an Overheated Dog

Once your dog is in the throes of heat stroke, you have a short amount of time to seek medical intervention. The best way to avoid losing your dog to heat stroke is to prevent their overheating in the first place! 

Sadly, the most common incident of heat stroke is often accidental. Owners take their dog along to the store, leaving the dog “just for a minute” in a hot car. Even if the window is cracked, a dog can quickly overheat on a hot summer day. Unlike people, dogs don’t have many sweat glands. They sweat mostly through their paws and use panting to regulate their temperature. 

The first step in preventing heat stroke in your dog is to leave them home in warmer weather. Other ways to keep your dog safe from heat stroke include: 

  • Providing access to cool water
  • Providing access to shade
  • Ensuring dog crates or other areas are well-ventilated
  • Avoid leaving your dog outside in the heat for long periods of time 

Another surprising danger to dogs is hot pavement. It can burn your dog’s paws and contribute to their vulnerability to heat stroke. Protective foot coverings, such as Walkee Paws, can help keep your dog safe from paw injury and overheating. 

Knowing the signs of heat stroke in dogs is also an important factor. Knowledge is power!