A Summer Guide to Heat Stress and Heat Stroke for Dog Owners - courtesy of Animal Emergency Services Australia
As we get into summer and the temperature rises, it’s important to be aware of how the heat affects your pup. Please read below to recognize the signs of heat stress and know when you should seek veterinary care for your pet.
I’m comfortable outside. Why is my dog so hot?
Unlike humans, dogs do not sweat to cool their bodies (except a small amount through the paw pads). Instead, dogs primarily regulate their temperature through their mouth, by panting. This can be very ineffective, however, when the temperature gets over 80 degrees or when a dog is in direct sunlight.
What’s more, excessive panting can even lead to respiratory exhaustion because your dog is breathing as rapidly and with as much effort as possible. So, if your dog is a brachycephalic breed (bulldog, pug, boxer, etc.), is overweight, has a thick coat, or has other preexisting conditions such as heart disease, they are much more susceptible to heat stress.
How do I know if my dog is getting too hot?
Often the first signs of overheating are vague. Your pet may seek shade, become restless, whine or become vocal, or appear to have trouble breathing. A rectal temperature of 104-106 degrees indicates heat stress. A temperature of 106 or over is consistent with heat stroke. However, if the weather is hot and your dog is displaying any of the above symptoms, it is best to follow the directions below.
What should I do if I think my dog is too hot?
The first thing you should do is get into the shade or an air conditioned area. A shaded concrete or tile floor works great as a cool surface for your dog to lie on. Offer your dog water but do not force them to drink. Allow them to lie on the cool floor in the shade or air conditioned room for 20 minutes before attempting to get them up.
When should I take my dog to the vet?
Take your dog to the veterinarian if it’s been 30 minutes in the shade or air conditioned room and they are still panting, restless, or if you notice any other abnormal behavior (wheezing, staggering, vomiting).