Dogs are unable to sweat like humans can to lose body heat. They reduce their body temperature by panting. If a dog gets too hot and they are unable to cool themselves down enough by panting, they can develop heat stroke. If you’ve ever had it yourself, you’ll know how uncomfortable and potentially dangerous it can be.
A dog with heat stroke will be panting heavily, drooling (more than normal if you have a dog that drools), they will be lethargic and could even be drowsy with loss of coordination. Their heart rate will increase and their tongue and gums may look a darker red/pink than normal. In severe cases, they will start to vomit and could even collapse.
If you suspect a dog has heat stroke and you cannot get them to a vet straight away, move them into the shade and/or a much cooler area. It’s important to get their body temperature down as a matter of urgency, BUT, you must do this gradually.
There are several ways in which you can do this. Douse them in cool water. Please don’t use cold/iced water as this can induce shock. You could also cover them in cool wet towels, but make sure these are replaced regularly as their body heat will warm the towels up and be counter productive. If you have a fan nearby, place them in front of that too. Let them drink some small amounts of cool water. Again, not cold, or iced water. Carry on with these processes until the dogs breathing starts to settle, but don’t get to the stage where they start to shiver.
Once you are happy that they are much cooler, get them seen by a vet as soon as possible. It might be that they need further cooling. They may look much better outwardly, but inwardly, the temperature of their blood could still be quite high, in which case, the vet could advise cooled intravenous fluids to reduce their core temperature to a more acceptable level.
Please be aware that some dogs are more prone to heat stroke than others.
Very young, or old dogs.
Dogs that may be carrying some extra weight.
Brachycephalic breeds that have shorter/flatter faces like pugs and bulldogs can suffer more, as it is generally harder for them to breath.
If they have a thick, or heavy coat, it might be worth thinking about a summer haircut.
There are also some diseases and certain types of medication that could mean your dog is at increased risk. If your dogs suffers from a chronic condition, is on medication and you are worried, please give us a call.