Are you looking for tips to avoid heatstroke in dogs? Then you need to read our guide because we are going to explain to you how to keep your pet out of risk. Heat strokes are very dangerous because they can have life-threatening consequences since they inflict damage to important organs like the brain, liver, and kidneys. If unattended, the damage can be permanent, and eventually, lead to death. Therefore, prevention is the best policy.
It is even more important nowadays since we live in a world where heat waves are stronger and more frequent every year. It is a latent risk that deserves all of your attention, because it affects all living beings, including your pet.
Dogs have only a couple of ways to cool off: blood vessel expansion and panting. When dogs pant, they evaporate moisture from their tongues, nasal passages, and the lining of their lungs, and this cools them down as air passes over the moist tissue. They also cool off via vasodilation. Blood vessels, especially in the ears and face, expand – bringing overheated blood closer to the surface to cool down.
That is why we are going to show you how to prevent heat stroke in dogs, to keep your pet happy and healthy even in the hottest weather. It is your responsibility as a dog owner, because this ailment scores a mortality rate of 50%, and death usually happens within 24 hours. Now you know why it is critical to keep these tips in mind, so let’s start!
What Is Heat Stroke in Dogs?
A condition and type of heat injury that happens when the body of your dog gets overheated over 40° C or 104° F. It can happen if you keep your dog in secluded spaces like a car when the temperature of the environment is high, when you over-exercise your pet, when your dog is not hydrated, or a combination of the aforementioned factors.
Anything that causes the body temperature of your dog to rise above the limit is going to cause heatstroke, and as we have seen, it will have catastrophic consequences, especially if it is a puppy or a senior dog.
12 Tips to Avoid Heat Stroke in Dogs
Now that you know how to identify if your pet is overheating, now it is time to learn how you can prevent such scenario, which as we have seen, can be fatal if you don’t control it early. The tips are effective and practical, let’s see them below.
1. Don’t leave your dog outside
When the temperature is too hot, a range which varies from 30° C to 37° C or 85° F to 100° F, then you should not leave your dog outside, because the risk of overheating will rise exponentially, especially if it is a zone absent of trees, vegetation or water bodies. It sounds like common sense, but you would be amazed to know how many animal companions have died due to heat. Put it in practice and keep your pet happy and safe.
If you do, make sure you offer your dog a large kennel offering a lot of shade to keep the ground and air cooler.
2. Do not shave your dog’s coat
Contrary to popular belief, shaving the coat of your dog will not cool it down, to the contrary, it can be the beginning of a fatal overheating problem. Their coat is there for a purpose, which is to protect them from the environment and the weather, be it hot or cold.
In this case, if you shave the coat of your dog and you leave it exposed in the outside, then it can suffer sunburns, and of course, experience overheating, because there is no layer of protection and temperature regulation.
Only trim its coat in case you want to stylize it, but prevent yourself from shaving it, because it will do more harm than good.
3. Give plenty of fresh water
As we have seen, dehydration is a direct consequence of overheating, and it can be fatal. The sunken eyes, dry nose, muscle tremors, and dry gums are a clear sign, and the best way to prevent it is to give your dog plenty of fresh water. You can even add some water to its food, to ensure that it is drinking enough, especially if the weather is too hot. Make it easy for them to stay hydrated because they are going to need it badly.
4. Find a cool place or shade for your dog
Hot weather is not an excuse to skip taking your dog outside for some exercise. These are vital for the dog’s optimal health. However, try to find cold places or shade, so your dog can get physical activity while minimizing sun exposure.
You can spend some time under the sun, but it should be minimal. If your dog needs to rest, then, by all means, find shade, and ideally, near a water body like a lake, because the temperature of the land will always be cooler. In addition, it is powerful stress relief.
5. Limit your dogs’ outdoor activities
The main cause of heatstroke in dogs is too much sun exposure and too much outdoor activity when the temperature is hot. We know it is common sense, but many irresponsible owners do not fall this advice. Dogs are very sensitive to hot temperatures, and therefore, you should limit the risk as much as possible.
A little hack is to take your dog to nearby water bodies because they cool down the temperature, and if there are many trees around, then you will have tons of shade, so your dog can enjoy time in the outdoors without the danger of overheating. However, always stay alert for any symptom.
6. Never leave your dog inside your car
Hot car fatalities are a threat year-round, but especially during the summer, because the temperature rises and the risk of overheating increases exponentially. We already mentioned that leaving your pet in a secluded space when it is hot can be fatal, and therefore, you should never leave your dog inside your car. It is inhumane and potentially fatal.
7. Keep your house cool
Because your pet will stay inside most of the time, it is essential to make sure that it feels cool. Air conditioning is the easiest way to keep your home cool, but you can also resort to the following tips:
- Buy blackout curtains
- Keep the blinds closed because according to the National Health Service (UK), it is a mistake to try to cool down the temperature by opening the windows when the best way to do it is by shutting down the blinds
- Let the night air in (the best time to open the windows to regulate the interior temperature of your home)
- Get rid of incandescent lighting
Put these tips in practice and your home will be a better place to live for your family and your pet.
If your dog sleeps on its regular bed, you should perhaps try to swap it for a raised/elevated dog bed to offer more airflow.
8. Keep a closer look on your dog’s health
During hot times, it is important to monitor the health of your pet, especially its body temperature. According to the American Club Kennel, the ideal body temperature ranges from 38.3° C to 39.2° C or 101° F to 102.5° F. Checking it regularly will allow you to keep your dog out of danger.
9. Buy a cooling mat for your dog
One of the easiest hacks to keep your dog cool during the summer or heat waves is to buy a cooling bed or cooling mat. However, you should use it in addition to our other tips for cooling down your home, because it is an additional measure rather than a total solution.
Cooling mats are ideal solutions for sudden spikes of heat during the summer. These days when the news channels let us know how we’re reaching new record levels of heat. Get the cooling mat out and let your dog cool off while lounging over it.
10. Give your dog access to water
By now, it should be clear that your pet needs to stay hydrated, and therefore, easy access to running water is essential (e.g. dog water fountain). Nevertheless, you should also take your dog for a swim every now and then, because, in addition to regulating its body temperature better, it has excellent benefits especially for dogs with osteoarthritis.
If swimming is not a viable option, then a regular shower will help your dog tremendously. It will allow you to keep your dog out of the heat danger zone and to relieve its stress, which in consequence will bring you a healthier and happier dog.
11. Adequate airflow
Airflow is a critical factor to ensure that your dog remains healthy when the weather is hot. You should ensure that your house is properly ventilated, especially at night since you should take advantage of the fresh and cooling night air.
To make sure that your dog enjoys proper airflow, give it an elevated bed to ensure that they get enough air when sleeping. In addition, this quick tip will allow your dog to lower its body temperature because it will be away from the hot floor. You can use a bladeless fan for dogs, for example!
12. Know symptoms of overheating in dogs
In addition to monitoring the body temperature and health of your dog, you should also check if your pet presents any of the symptoms we describe below like excessive patting, abnormal drooling, sunken eyes, dry nose, dizziness or fast heart pulse.
The good news is that the symptoms are easy to spot, and therefore, you can prevent your dog from getting a heatstroke by taking rapid action to cool down its temperature.
Dog Breeds That Are Prone to Heat Stroke
Not all dog breeds are prone to heat stroke. However, there are breeds of dogs that are more likely to experience this than others. Therefore, you should keep an eye on them especially in summer or in very hot weather.
Here’s a list of dog breeds that are more prone to heat stroke.
- Chow chow (17 times more likely to suffer from heatstroke)
- Bulldog (14 times more likely)
- French bulldog (six times more likely)
- French mastiff (five times more likely)
- Greyhound (four times more likely)
- Cavalier King Charles spaniel (three times more likely)
- Pug (three times more likely)
- English springer spaniel (three times more likely)
- Golden retriever (three times more likely)
- Siberian Husky (three times more likely)
Signs & Symptoms That Your Dog Is Overheating
Fortunately, it is easy to identify when your dog is overheating, which will allow you to take rapid action to take it out of the danger zone. If your dog has three or more signs, especially heavy panting and signs of dehydration, then you can be sure that your dog is overheated. Here you have all the signs to look for.
Excessive Panting – A big warning sign if your dog is panting constantly and heavily because it means it is battling to regulate its body temperature. You should take immediate action to regulate the body temperature because it is one of the clearest indications of possible heatstrokes in dogs.
Tiredness and Lethargy – If you notice that the energy levels of your dog have dropped suddenly and considerably, then it might be a sign of overheating, especially if you notice other symptoms.
Pale and Dry Gums – It is a strong sign of dehydration, which is a consequence of overheating. The gums could also look bluish, red or purple. Watch out for any abnormality, and if it is present along with other signs, then it can be a case of dehydration, which can be the result of overheating, and consequently, can give space to heatstrokes in dogs.
Accelerated Breathing – Another clear symptom of overheating, especially if it is accompanied by heavy painting, as well as other common signs of dehydration such as the abnormal appearance of gums, sunken eyes and dry nose.
Fast Heart Pulse – Another common sign that your body is overheating is fast heart pulse. If you touch its face and you feel that its heart is accelerating excessively, then it can help you to confirm the diagnosis.
Dry Nose – A common sign of dehydration, which is the consequence of abnormally high body temperatures in dogs. It is easy to spot, and therefore, an early sign to take immediate action.
Sunken Eyes – Like a dry nose or pale gums, sunken eyes indicate a worrying level of dehydration, which can lead to a fatality if unattended.
Muscle Tremors – When the body temperature of your pet rises, it usually manifests itself in the form of muscle tremors, shaking and shivering. The diagnosis becomes clearer if you notice other signs.
Dizziness – When your pet is dehydrated and overheated, they get lightheaded, which makes them feel dizzy and have troubles to walk. If they bump into furniture and seem disoriented, then it might be a case of overheating.
Vomiting – A big warning sign if your dog vomits blood because it means that it is at risk of suffering a heatstroke. It requires immediate help from your veterinary.
Diarrhea – Like vomiting, it is a response of the body when a dog is overheated, and it becomes more severe and critical when you notice very soft stools with blood and/or mucus in them.
No Urine – When the temperature of the body rises, many dogs have problems for producing urine. If it is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea or any other sign, then we are talking about dehydration.
Abnormal Drooling – If you notice that your dog is drooling excessively, and if in addition, the saliva is thick and sticky, then you can be sure that the body temperature of your pet is rising. If abnormal drooling is seen with other symptoms such as muscle tremors, accelerate breathing and abnormal panting, then you can be sure of the diagnosis.
Now you have the best tips to avoid heatstroke in dogs, and in addition, now you know how to recognize the symptoms. Prevention is the best policy, and our guide will make it easy for you to apply it.