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How to Tell If Your Dog Has Heat Stroke: Signs, Symptoms, Remedies & Actions

How to Tell If Your Dog Has Heat Stroke: Signs, Symptoms, Remedies & Actions

Heat stroke is very dangerous and can even become deadly for dogs. Today, our Thousand Oaks vets explain the dangers of this condition as well as causes, symptoms and tips for prevention. We also list actions to take and when to seek emergency care if you believe your dog is suffering from heat stroke. 

While people sweat, dogs do not. Instead, they eliminate heat from their bodies by panting. If panting isn't enough, a dog's body temperature can rise to dangerous levels and they can experience heat stroke, which can turn fatal if not immediately treated. 

What causes heat stroke in dogs?

Dogs can suffer from heat stroke in any hot environment. If a dog is left in a car or if your furry companion doesn't get enough shade and water when they are outdoors, your pooch can become dehydrated and you may start to see drooling and other symptoms. 

Some dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke than others. Dogs with short noses, thick fur or those suffering from medical conditions are predisposed to heatstroke. Even dogs who get regular exercise and playtime should be watched closely for signs of heat stroke, especially on hot and humid days. 

What are heat stroke symptoms in dogs?

Excessive panting is one hallmark sign of heat stroke in dogs. Other symptoms can include symptoms of discomfort such as mental dullness, vomiting, diarrhea, reddened gums, drooling and uncoordinated movement. heat exhaustion and heat stroke can also lead to cardiac arrest. A dog may even collapse and lose consciousness. 

Heat stroke in dogs can point to serious medical issues and cause unseen problems such as intestinal bleeding, abnormal blood clotting, kidney failure and swelling of the brain. This is why immediate emergency veterinary care is strongly recommended.

What actions should I take if I think my dog has heat stroke?

Contact your veterinarian or the nearest emergency animal hospital and let them know you are on your way. Travel with the windows open and the air conditioner on the way to the veterinarian. Until you arrive at the vet's office, make sure to:

  • Take your dog out of the hot environment immediately. 
  • Do not give the dog aspirin to lower its temperature, as this may lead to other problems. 
  • Allow your dog to drink as much cool water as they want without forcing them to drink. 
  • Soak a towel in cold water and place it on your dog's back to cool them off. 

How will a vet treat my dog's heat stroke?

If your dog is diagnosed with heat stroke, treatment options will likely include intravenous fluid therapy to replace fluids and minerals. 

Your veterinarian will also monitor your dog for secondary complications such as kidney failure, development of neurologic symptoms, abnormal clotting, changes in blood pressure and electrolytes abnormalities. 

How can I prevent my dog from developing heat stroke?

As a pet owner, it is important to be aware of the outside temperature and take appropriate measures to prevent heat stroke, especially during hot and humid conditions.

When outdoors, always make sure your dog is in a well-ventilated area with access to plenty of water and shade.

While traveling in cars, make sure that your dog is kept in crates that has good ventilation, and never leave your dog in a car with the windows closed.

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.

New Patients Welcome

VSEC Thousand Oaks is accepting new patients! Our board-certified specialists and experienced emergency veterinarians are passionate about restoring good health to animal companions.

Contact (805) 492-2436