Dog Heatstroke Awareness & Prevention

As the weather heats up, many of us will be outside enjoying the sunshine with our four-legged friends. Whether you are in your garden or out on a walk, it’s important to be aware of the risk of your dog developing heatstroke. Some dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke, such as thick coated breeds and flat face breeds like pugs and bulldogs. Prevention is always better than cure, so we’ve got some top tips to help avoid heatstroke, as well as some tell-tale signs to look out for.

Avoid walks during hot weather.

Although it may be tempting to grab your dog’s lead and take them on a long walk in the sunshine, exercising your dog during increased heat can be dangerous, as their internal body temperature can increase rapidly. Try to walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening when it is cooler to avoid the midday heat. Concrete pavements and sand can also become very hot throughout the day, which can cause injury to your dog’s paws.

Avoid excessive exercise.

If you’re staying at home in the garden, try to avoid excessively exercising your dog by having them running around or playing fetch. Make sure your dog has access to a nice, shaded area to keep cool and out of the direct sunlight.

Always have cool, fresh water available.

It goes without saying that having fresh water available for your dog is essential. Why not try popping a few ice cubes into their bowl or making some doggy friendly ice lollies to help keep them cool?

Never leave your dog in a car.

The temperature inside a car and rise extremely quickly during warm, sunny days, so it can be very dangerous for our dog to be left in a car for even a short amount of time. An outside temperature of 22 degrees can become as high as 47 degrees inside a car within an hour. (Source: RSPCA)

Use cooling toys & accessories.

There are a range of fun toys and accessories that can keep your dog occupied on sunny days, whilst keeping them cool and safe. These include water toys, cooling mats and beds, water fountains and doggy paddling pools.

Signs of heatstroke to lookout for.

If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, it is important to get veterinary assistance as soon as possible. Although there are some immediate at-home treatments you can do to reduce your dog’s body temperature, heatstroke can have lasting effects on a dog’s internal organs, which are best assessed by your vet. The key signs of heatstroke are:

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling and salivating
  • Red tongue and very red or pale gums
  • Increased heart rate and difficulty breathing
  • Restlessness and muscle spasms
  • Dizziness, fatigue, and confusion
  • Vomiting
  • In extreme cases, seizures and collapsing.

All of these can be very distressing to the dog and to you as their owner. If you spot these signs in your dog, initial action should be taken to slowly bring your dog’s temperature back to normal.

  • Remove your dog from the heated area into a cool, shaded area.
  • Apply tepid water to your dog using a spray bottle, or a damp towel draped over your dog’s body. Place them in front of a fan if one is available.
  • Allow them to sip cool water. Do not used ice cold water as this can worsen the problem.
  • Continue these steps until their breathing begins to return to normal.

Take your dog to the vet as soon as possible, even if they seem to have recovered from the initial symptoms. They will want to run tests to check for any long-term damage and administer any further treatment as required. Preventative measures can help you and your dogs enjoy the summer weather, whilst keeping them safe and healthy. We hope these tips and advice will help you and your four legged friends enjoy the summer weather to come!

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