Heat Stroke in Dogs

Heat Stroke in Dogs : Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, & Recovery

Vet-Checked • Pet-Tested • Owner-Approved

Kate Barrington

Researched & Written by

Kate Barrington

At EasyPet, we are committed to presenting the most accurate and up-to-date information to assist you in your pet care journey. When appropriate, we consult licensed and practicing veterinarians to fact-check our professionally written articles.

There are many issues that most dog owners overlook when it comes to their pet’s health. But, even when they spend thousands on pet insurance and fancy toys, lack of attention to minute things can lead to big problems. Heat strokes are one of those problems, and no dog owner should ignore the problems posed by dog heat strokes. In case you didn’t know, dog heat strokes are common in most countries globally, and the US is not an exception.

So, there is an unfortunate chance that your dog may suffer from heatstroke during the summertime. But, of course, you cannot run away from summertime or heat at this point. So, the best thing you can do is know as much as you can about heatstroke in dogs. In this article, we have attempted to help you as much as possible. We have answered some of the important questions you may have about dog heat strokes and how to avoid them. But, first, we will have an introduction to what a dog heatstroke is.

jennier coates dvm author

Medically Reviewed by

Jennifer Coates, DVM

When appropriate, we consult licensed and practicing veterinarians to fact-check and contribute to our professionally written articles. We are committed to presenting the most accurate, up-to-date, and trustworthy information to assist you in your pet care journey.

What is Heat Stroke in Dogs?

Heat strokes in dogs occur when a dog is exposed to elevated temperatures for an extended period. Under normal circumstances, the dog will release the excess body heat through panting. That is how dogs manage to live without sweating. However, during summertime or when exposed to an extraordinarily high amount of heat, panting may not be capable enough to eliminate the excess heat. At this point, the dog will show a few symptoms of heatstroke. It must be noted that the symptoms of dog heatstroke can be short-term as well as long-term. Let us talk about some stats that will tell you how common heat strokes are among dogs.

Even though the specifics may vary based on the breed and age, 38.5 degrees Celsius is considered the normal temperature of a dog’s body. However, unlike humans, dogs are not that efficient at adapting to temperatures. So, if the body temperature rises even as low as 2 degrees Celsius, the dog will start showing heatstroke problems. Likewise, if the temperature reaches a point of 43 degrees Celsius, most organs in a dog’s body may stop working. Most importantly, if a dog is subjected to heat stroke for up to 15 minutes, it could lead to its death due to the lack of dehydration.

We understand these numbers are scary, but they happen to tell the truth. If all this information can tell you something, you should not overlook heat stroke symptoms in dogs. During summertime and other hot environments, you should pay attention to the various signs.

Dog Panting in Shade

Signs & Symptoms of Heat Stroke in Dogs

The first signs of heat strokes are pretty evident that you cannot ignore. However, when the heatstroke begins to show its impact, different parts of your dog’s body will react in different ways. Some of those are:

  • If you look at the mouth of the dog, you can see heavy panting, red gums, more than normal drooling, and the tendency to vomit. In addition, the eyes may look glassy. In general, your dog’s face would look abnormal. When the heat rises within their body, dogs will show signs of fear.
  • As you can guess, the most significant sign of heatstroke would be the increased body temperature. As we said, 38.5 degrees Celsius is the average temperature of a dog’s body. So, if you check the temperature during heat stroke, it could register a difference of a few degrees, which is not good.
  • The excessive body temperature will also affect the heart, brain, and legs. In the heart, there will be palpitations, which would also make the dog so tired. In some breeds, you can also see signs like seizures and legs collapsing. In most cases, your furry friend will not be able to move.

We must keep in mind that these are only the early-stage signs of heat strokes in dogs. If your dog has other health conditions, there could be other symptoms as well. For instance, dogs with other issues tend to lose their consciousness when exposed to too much heat. Therefore, if you have a poof that does not have the best health condition, you must take extra precautions against heat strokes.

Dog getting water from owner

Treating Heat Stroke in Dogs

You do not treat heat exhaustion in dogs. It would be best if you let an experienced professional do it. As we said, the signs and impacts of heat exhaustion can be different in different dogs. Therefore, you cannot follow a single method to treat exhaustion in all dogs.

On the other hand, you can follow the first-aid methods we have mentioned below.

The first thing you should understand is that heat strokes are no minor thing. Therefore, do not think for even a second that you can solve the issue on your own. So, the first thing you must do when you see your dog has a heat stroke attack is calling the veterinarian. If you cannot take your dog to the vet, you should ask the doctor to visit your place. During this period — which could be a few minutes —, you can do something to ease things for your pet.

The first steps are apparent. For instance, if your dog is in a hot environment, you should move them to a cooler area. At this point, your dog would be tired with thirst. So, it would be best if you offered a bowl of water. Please make sure that you provide cool water, not cold water. You can also use running water to soak the coat of your dog. Again, you should avoid using cold water since it may worsen things by messing with blood flow. If you cannot do these things, you should take your dog to a nearby veterinarian or emergency clinic.

Heat Stroke in Dogs FAQs

How to Avoid Heat Stroke in Dogs?

As you have seen, the impact heat strokes can have on a dog are pretty problematic. Therefore, you should take the proper steps to keep the dog from excessive heat during the summertime. Here are some tips you can follow to avoid the situation of heat strokes in dogs.

  • Ensure that you provide enough water and shade if you let your dog out during the summer season. Or, if you live in an area with relatively high temperatures, your dog must always have access to water and food.
  • Talking about food, you should be careful about the food you give your dog during the summertime. The wrong type of food can mess with the body temperature, increasing the chances of dog heat strokes by a long shot.
  • You must not leave your dog in the car when you are going out. If you leave your dog in the car, you have to turn on the AC and set a suitable temperature. Many vehicle models come with a dog mode, and Tesla is an excellent example of that. Through this method, you can reduce the chances of strokes.
  • As we said earlier, dogs with underlying health conditions are more prone to heat exhaustion. You must be careful about the summertime in that instance. For instance, if your dog spends most of the time outside, you may want to shift that during the summertime. If you have an air-conditioned room in your room, you can accommodate your dog there.

The bare minimum you can do is to set up a fan or a cooler near your dog. So, your pet does not have to rely on its panting to get rid of the excess temperature. Research has also proven that dogs that get to live in suitable temperatures tend to have fewer health issues in the long run.

Dog cooling off in kiddie pool

Can a Dog Recover from Heat Stroke?

Yes, in most cases, a dog can recover from heatstroke.

However, you should not expect your dog to do that miraculously. As the owner, you have to take the right steps to help your furry friend recover from the heatstroke and exhaustion. Some of the steps you have to follow in these situations are as follows.

If these things are done on time, your dog can quickly recover from a heatstroke. Not to make you afraid, but even a few seconds’ delays can make things problematic. So, you should be quick as much as you are careful while performing these tasks

With the right help from a professional, your dog would not have trouble getting rid of the heatstroke.  

What Types of Food Should Your Dog Avoid During the Summer?

The food you give your dog during the summer will impact the chances of heat strokes in your pet. Therefore, you have to avoid the following types of food during the period.

  • Ice-cold foods that may take a lot of time for digestion
  • You should not follow an extreme diet (including the positive ones) during the summer
  • You should not provide food such as tuna and chicken that warm up the body
  • Stay away from apricot, walnut, avocados, grapes, garlic, etc.

The Bottom Line?

We believe you have a comprehensive idea about dog heat strokes now. As you have seen, heat strokes are something you should avoid at any cost. Following the tips we have mentioned above will help you with that.

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