Heat stroke is one of the most common reasons why dogs are brought to veterinary hospital during the warmer parts of the year. While heat related illnesses are more common in summer, heat stroke can occur at any time of the year due to inadequate shade or drinking water and excessive exercise.

Dogs only have a few sweat glands around their noses and in their feet, relying on panting and external cooling to lose heat. For this reason, dogs are very susceptible to heat stroke and it can happen faster than you may expect. Heat stroke is a very serious, life threatening condition that can cause damage to internal organs. It requires urgent treatment at an animal hospital.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

If your dog is suffering from heat stroke with a body temperature of above 40 degrees, they will need to visit an emergency vet hospital to avoid the condition becoming potentially fatal.

Look out for these signs of heat stroke in your dog:

  • Rapid and increasing panting
  • Drooling
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Very red or pale gums
  • Increased heart rate
  • Breathing distress
  • Dizziness and staggering
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Collapsing and lying down
  • Muscle tremors

If your dog is showing signs of heat stroke, remove your pet from the hot environment immediately. Apply or spray tepid/cool water onto the animal’s fur and skin. Then apply a fan/fanning to maximise heat loss. Take your dog to your local veterinary hospital as soon as possible.

Risk Factors for Heat Stroke in Dogs

Any dog can develop heatstroke, however some are at greater risk than others. The following characteristics may cause your dog to be more predisposed to suffering from heat stroke:

  • Brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog breeds such as pugs, English bulldogs and French bulldogs.
  • Obesity
  • Age extremes (young or old)
  • Thick or long hair coat
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Respiratory disease
  • Heart problems
  • Pregnancy

Ways to Reduce Heat Stroke Risk

There are a variety of ways to help prevent your dog from suffering heat stroke. Have a cool, well-ventilated space for your dog. Good ventilation is critical because many animals lose heat by panting (evaporative cooling) which relies on good airflow. Ensure your dog as access to plenty of clean drinking water at all times and access to shade while they are outside.

Avoid exercising your dog during extremely hot weather. Avoid the hottest parts of the day (10am – 4pm) stead aiming to exercise them in the early evening. Avoid hot sand, concrete or any other areas where heat is reflected. Never leave your dog in a car as temperatures rise extremely quickly even on mild temperature days and can kill pets rapidly.

Specialist Veterinary Services in Sydney

If your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you should ensure it receives adequate care at a veterinary hospital. For a range of veterinary services for your pet, speak to our specialist vets at Sydney Veterinary Emergency & Specialists today. Call us on (02) 9197 5800.