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Stay Cool: 7 Warning Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs Every Pet Parent Should Know

By John O'Keefe September 24, 2020

Over 63 million homes across America have a pet dog and boy do we love them? If you're a doggy parent you'll know that keeping your dog healthy and happy is one of your top priorities. However, you may not be familiar with all the ways that your dog can get sick. 

In summer, for example, temperatures in the US can reach over 80 F and this can leave your dog at risk of getting heatstroke. Knowing how to spot the signs of heatstroke in dogs means you'll be able to get your pet what they need as soon as possible. 

Want to know more about looking after your dog in the heat? Then you're in the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know about heatstroke in dogs and seven key signs to look out for.

Heatstroke in dogs - CBD oil for dogs

How Does Heatstroke Affect Dogs?

In a hot environment, it doesn't take long for a dog to overheat. This is because they don't release heat as quickly as we do. On top of this, their fur can actually hold in excess heat. 

As a result, your dog's temperature can skyrocket causing heatstroke. If left untreated, heatstroke can result in: 

  • Brain swelling 
  • Kidney failure 
  • Abnormal blood clotting 
  • Intestinal bleeding

Some dogs may be more prone to heatstroke than others. Those with thick coats and certain health conditions heat up more quickly. This means they'll need more help keeping cool.

The sooner you spot heatstroke, the sooner you'll be able to act. And this can stop the problem from becoming serious. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at some of the common signs of heatstroke in dogs. 

1. Excessive Panting

As humans, when we need to cool down, we sweat but dogs don't do this. Instead, they pant to cool themselves down. This is why your dog will pant more on a hot day or after they've been running. 

If you notice them panting more than usual, or without doing any activity, this could mean they're overheating. Often you'll notice that their panting doesn't let up when they move into the shade. At this point, they need more help cooling down.

2. Difficulty Breathing

As you can imagine, panting excessively can also seriously mess with your dog's ability to breathe normally. This especially affects dogs with underlying respiratory conditions. 

You may notice that your dog starts wheezing or that their breathing becomes erratic.

3. Vomiting or Diarrhea

Heatstroke affects the body in a similar way to a fever. Because of this, your dog's body will try to expel anything that could be causing the fever. 

The result of this is that they will often begin vomiting or get diarrhea. It's important to note that they may get one or both of these symptoms.

If this happens, it's even more important to keep offering them water so that they don't get dehydrated.

4. Lethargy and Confusion 

As your dog warms up they may become drowsy or confused. This is because most of their energy is going into keeping themselves cool. Often you'll notice this in their behavior. 

They may not respond as normal or may move around less. When they do move around you might notice that they have difficulty coordinating their movements. 

5. Blood in Their Urine

As we mentioned earlier, as heatstroke advances it can have a serious effect on your dog's internal organs. As a result, your dog may develop kidney failure if their heatstroke goes untreated. 

A common symptom of this is blood in their urine. This isn't always bright red like blood. It can also be an orange or dark brown color. 

If you notice this, it is important to get veterinary help immediately.

6. A Raised Temperature

Obviously, as your dog heats up their body temperature will rise. If you have a thermometer you can also check their temperature if you are concerned. 

The average healthy temperature for a dog is between 101 and 102.5 F. This may be a little higher or lower depending on the breed of your dog. Anything over 104 F indicates that your dog is overheating and may have heatstroke or a fever.

7. Unconsciousness

One of the final symptoms of heatstroke is a loss of consciousness. This happens because their body is shutting down any "unnecessary" functions and is going into survival mode. 

When this happens it is extremely important to get them to veterinary help as soon as possible.

Tips for Preventing Heatstroke in Dogs

To save your dog a lot of discomfort and danger, do what you can to prevent them from developing heatstroke. You should consistently keep an eye on the temperature outside so you know when your dog needs extra help.

There are a number of things you can do to help keep dogs cool in the heat. These include: 

  • Keeping your dog in a well-ventilated area
  • Giving them access to water 
  • Ensuring they have access to shade 

As a dog owner, you should already know not to leave them in a car on a hot day - even if it's just for five minutes!

If your dog does start to show signs of having heatstroke, you should take them to your local vet straight away. While doing this, try to keep them out of the heat and ensure they have plenty of water. The last thing you want is for them to get even hotter on the journey!

Look Out for Signs of Heatstroke in Your Dog Today! 

As you can see, heatstroke in dogs is a serious issue that can leave them feeling lethargic and uncomfortable. Left untreated your dog's heatstroke will make them seriously unwell and can be fatal. So if you spot any of these symptoms act sooner rather than later. 

For more great tips on looking after your beloved pet, head over to our blog now.


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