Heat Exhaustion in Dogs
As we approach the summer months it is important to know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and how to treat it should it occur. Heat exhaustion is a serious concern, it can lead to severe and potentially fatal conditions. We don’t tell you this to scare you, we just want you to be aware of the warning signs, risk factors and what to do if you see these signs.
Your dog doesn’t sweat the way you do. Your pup will pant in an attempt to let off excess heat, however, sometimes panting it not enough. A dog's normal temperature is higher than humans and this can cause them to overheat faster than you. Knowing the signs of potential heat exhaustion in your dog will help you to keep them safe. Early signs of heat exhaustion tend to be subtle, your dog may take longer to respond to your call or wander away without acknowledging you. While panting is a normal reaction in dogs, when the panting becomes excessive this can be a sign that they are overheating. Once a dog moves into the danger zone they may collapse, have seizures, start vomiting or diarrhea and their tongue/gums can turn blue or bright red. Noticing and identifying the early signs in your dog can prevent them from going into a dangerous place.
All dog breeds are at risk of overheating, however, some breeds are more prone to it than others. If your pup has a thick coat or long hair, is very young or very old and those with short noses and flat faces they are at higher risk. This includes Shih Tzus, pugs, boxers, and bulldogs. Also, if your dog is overweight or suffering from a medical condition that causes difficulty breathing or heart problems they are more susceptible. Working/hunting breeds are at risk because they tend to be out in the hot parts of the day and at times they can get so focused on work that they don’t realize that they are overheating.
Here are steps to take if your dog does overheat:
Take your dog IMMEDIATELY to a cool area, indoors or in a shaded area with a fan and call your vet.
Take your dogs temperature using a rectal thermometer. If your dog's temperature is between 103-106 they are considered to be suffering from heat exhaustion. If their temperature is above 106 they are at risk for heart stroke. CALL YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY.
If you are close to a body of water, a lake or pool allow your dog to get in and cool down. If you are not then you can use wet cloths or towels to help them. Placing the cloth on the back of the neck or between the back legs on their belly. DO NOT use ice water to cool them down, doing so can cause them to go into shock.
If your pet is willing to drink, them give them cool fresh water. DO NOT force them to drink, this could cause them to inhale the water into their lungs. Don’t give ice cubes, this may cause his body temp to drop too fast causing shock.
Lastly, get your dog to the vet. Call ahead so they know you are coming and can prepare to treat your dog as soon as you arrive.
To conclude we want to remind you that prevention is the best cure for heat exhaustion. Following a few safety practices will help keep your dog safe. Limit exercise or activity during very hot days, make sure your dog has plenty of water and shade when outside and NEVER under any circumstances leave your pet in your parked car! Choose activities that will allow your dog to burn off energy and stay cool at the same time, such as swimming or playing in the sprinklers. Keeping your dogs coat short during summer will help as well, but be sure that there is still enough coat to protect their skin. Choose to take walks during the early morning or evening hours (hot pavement can damage paw pads). Taking this information into your daily routine will keep your furry friend out of danger and allow you to have a fun summer!!
As always, Come see us!
Utah Veterinary Hospital
161 East 30 North
American Fork, UT 84003