Signs your dog has heatstroke

In the coming weeks, some parts of the country will be heating up to over 30C, which is usually the kind of heat us Brits only experience when laying by the pool on holiday abroad.

For us it’s uncomfortable enough without these cooling comforts, but for dogs, it can be deadly.

Flat-faced dogs (such as pugs or French bulldogs) in particular can be up to 17 times more likely to experience heatstroke, and one in seven dogs with confirmed cases of heatstroke in 2016 sadly died from it.

That’s why it’s so important to prevent heatstroke, as well as knowing the signs so you can react fast if the worst does happen.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs

Many of the signs of heatstroke in dogs are similar to those in humans, but with a few pet-specific extras.

Look out for any of these symptoms in your dog when it’s hot out.

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of co-ordination
  • Collapsing
  • Vomiting

Heatstroke is normally caused by being out in the sun for too long, with body temperatures rising to the point they become unregulated.

This high body temperature can then damage the organs and be fatal.

Because dogs don’t have as many sweat glands as humans, they’re not as good t regulating their temperature, which is why they’re more prone to heatstroke.

What to do if you think your dog has heatstroke

Heatstroke can sometimes begin with heat exhaustion, which is less severe but has similar symptoms.

Whenever the weather is hot – and particularly if your dog is in a vulnerable category – keep a close eye to ensure that you get them medical help sooner rather than later.

The RSPCA recommends that ‘If a dog is displaying any signs of heatstroke, move them to a cool, shaded area and call a vet immediately.’

You can also douse them in cool (not cold) water, allow them to drink small amounts of cold water, and generally try to ensure they’re cooling doing but not getting so cold they’re shivering.

If you see a dog in a hot car showing signs of heatstroke, you are advised to call 999 immediately.

How to prevent heatstroke in dogs

Although dogs can be more likely to get heatstroke if they’re a flat-faced breed, have a long coat, are older, or are on certain medication, any dog can get it if they’re exposed to high temperatures.

There are two types of heatstrokes – exertional which is commonly caused by strenuous exercise in warm climes, and non-exertional, which is caused by lack of ventilation or water.

To prevent exertional heatstroke, you should limit exercise on hot days. If you do take them on a walk, make sure to bring plenty of water and stick to cooler times of day such as early mornings or late evenings.

Also try to remember, that if the ground is too hot for your hand to touch, it’ll be too hot for your pet to walk on.

In terms of non-exertional heatstroke, ventilation is key. Because dogs use panting to regulate their temperature they need good airflow at all times.

Never, ever leave your dog in a car or an unventilated room, and make sure that wherever they are they have access to air and shade.

Dogs have been known to die in hot cars in as little as fifteen minutes, so don’t even consider it when it comes to nipping to the shop quickly.

Make sure fresh, chilled water is available at all times, perhaps adding some ice cubes to keep it cool for longer.

If you have a small paddling pool or some freezable toys, these can also be beneficial.

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