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Dogs, Safety

9 Heat Stroke Warning Signs for Dogs

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog

yellow lab drooling

For many of us, summertime means living life outdoors: outdoor vacations, outdoor dining, and loads of outdoor activities with our family and pets. But it’s important to remember that our dogs handle the heat very differently than we do, and because of that, they are at increased risk for heat-related dangers such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

What can seem like mild heat for us can quickly turn into a dangerous situation for our pups. Dogs don’t sweat like we do; they only have a few sweat glands on their paws, so their primary method of cooling down is panting. If the air they are taking in is too hot to effectively cool them from the inside out, they can quickly overheat, leading to potentially fatal conditions like heat stroke and cardiac arrest.

Before you venture outside, take a moment to familiarize yourself with heat stroke symptoms and treatment, so you can keep your dogs safe and happy all summer long.

9 Heat Stroke Warning Signs for Dogs

  1. Excessive panting
  2. Excessive drooling
  3. Thick saliva
  4. Extreme thirst
  5. Vomiting
  6. Increased heart rate
  7. Bright red tongue and pale gums
  8. Frequent breaks to lie down
  9. Skin around neck or muzzle not snapping back when pinched

If you suspect that your dog might be experiencing heat stroke, it’s important to take action immediately.

  • Get your dog out of the heat immediately.

Ideally, you would want to get your dog into an air-conditioned area or somewhere near a fan. If that isn’t possible, move your dog to a shaded area with good airflow. Carry your dog, if you are able. Don’t ask them to walk or run anywhere. You want to minimize their physical exertion as much as possible.

  • Offer fresh water.

At first, it’s best to limit the amount of water you allow your dog to drink, to avoid vomiting. If your dog is uninterested in drinking water, you can offer unsalted beef or chicken broth as a substitute.

  • Use water to cool your dog.

You can help your dog safely bring their temperature down by wetting their coat with cool water or giving a bath. It’s important to pay attention to the temperature of the water you are using- you want it to be cool but not too cold, as it is possible to drop their body temperature too quickly. You can also use cool wet towels to wipe their paws, ears, neck, armpits, and between their hind legs.

  • Check your dog’s temperature

Once you’ve moved your dog to a cooler location, offered water, and tried to help them cool off, it’s a good idea to check their temperature using a rectal thermometer. Heat exhaustion typically occurs between 103 and 106 degrees, and a temperature above 106 degrees puts your dog at risk for heat stroke. If your dog’s temperature is above 106 degrees, call your veterinarian immediately.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, don’t hesitate to contact your vet, even after you’ve taken steps to lower their body temperature. You know your dog better than anyone else, and if you sense that something is off, trust your instincts. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

The best thing you can do is prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke from happening in the first place. Make sure you are planning ahead and taking measures to keep your pet cool and safe in the heat. When in doubt, limit the time they spend outdoors and keep them indoors until the hottest part of the day has passed.

How do you beat the heat with your dog? We would love to hear from you on our Facebook page!

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