Heatstroke in dogsWith the Met Office predicting that the heatwave will continue through August to October and many reports of deaths through heatstroke in dogs, time for some reminders.

Firstly remember heatstroke in humans is different to that in dogs. We get the warning signs of heat exhaustion with heavy sweating, rapid pulse, dizziness and cramps. Human heatstroke hits with an altered mental state and hot dry skin. Human heatstroke needs hospitalisation and then at least 2 months recovery.

The key differences are human’s ability to expel heat and to tell others to act to help us. Dogs do both badly.

Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs

Heatstroke in dogs needs immediate action to prevent loss of consciousness and internal organ failure. Look out for:

  • Excessive panting. Panting draws cool air through the nasal passages and around a dog’s body. It is the major way they cool down.
  • Excessive drooling and purplish or bright red gums. The latter shows inadequate oxygen supply to the tissues.
  • Lethargy, drowsiness and unco-ordination compared to normal.
  • Vomiting.
  • Collapsed.

Actions to take with a Heatstroke Dog

While needing to act quickly what is key here is to avoid shock. The cold water shock campaign has alerted us to the dangers of jumping into lakes and the sea to cool ourselves down. It’s the same for dogs. Avoid ice and cold as these cause sudden and negative responses in the body, use cool.

  1. Move to a cool shaded area.
  2. Douse dog with cool water. Wrap in damp towels to allow coolness to penetrate fur. Use a fan to create cooling air currents.
  3. Allow dog to drink small amounts of cool water often- no ice cubes.
  4. Douse using spray bottles. Beware of the hose as if laying in the sun the water will be very hot and then very cold. Spray also cools the surrounding air temperature. Stop dousing if shivering starts.
  5. Call the vet for advice. IV drips may be required to internally cool the body and to support kidney function. When en route to the vets use your air con, but not the coldest setting. The quickest way to cool a parked car is to open all windows when moving to get rid of the trapped hot air. Then close all windows and deploy the air con.

Prevention is Better then Cure

Better still avoid heatstroke in dogs by:

1. Never leaving a dog in a car unattended.
2. Always keeping dogs well hydrated with easy access to multiple bowls.
3. Carrying water when out for your canine friend o drink.
4. Providing shade where possible
5. Never walking and exercising above 25°C. Always choose the cooler parts of the day.