Can Dogs Get Heat Stroke?

heat stroke in dogs
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You’re walking along with your 80-pound, long-haired German Shepherd one warm, sunny afternoon. You’re breaking a bit of a sweat, but you feel fine in your shorts and tank. But then you look over at Thor, and he’s not looking too good. His eyes are glassy, he’s panting a lot and he’s starting to pull back on the leash. “But, it’s not that hot,” you say to yourself. “What’s up with Thor?”

Thor is probably on his way to heat stroke. Heat stroke in dogs can be dangerous.

What Is Heat Stroke In Dogs?

Your dog gets heat stroke when he’s having trouble regulating his body temperature.

Your dog doesn’t sweat the way you do. He only has sweat glands in his nose and in the pads of his feet. And his only real recourse when he’s overheating is to pant, which sometimes isn’t enough.

Add in the fur that covers his body and the fact that his paws are usually in direct contact with the hot sidewalk … and It’s easy to see how he can get much hotter than you can, and much faster.

Heatstroke in dogs is dangerous. It can cause permanent brain or organ damage.

A dog’s normal body temperature is somewhere between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees. A dog will start to experience heat stroke when he temperature is over 105 degrees. At around 106 to 108 degrees, irreversible organ damage can occur. It can even cause death. Try to keep a thermometer handy and check his temperature if you suspect heat stroke.

Pay close attention any time the weather is warm. The longer your dog suffers, the worse the damage will be.

Signs Of Heat Stroke In Dogs

So how can you tell if your dog’s struggling? Here are some signs of heat stroke in dogs:

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Glazed eyes
  • Hyperventilation
  • Increased salivation
  • Dry gums that are pale or grayish
  • Bright or dark red tongue or gums
  • Rapid or erratic pulse
  • Weakness, staggering, confusion, inattention
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Collapse

NOTE: Breeds with flat faces like Pugs and Boxers, elderly dogs and puppies are at higher risk. Dogs with existing health conditions may also overheat faster.

You need to take immediate action. Again, heat stroke can cause permanent organ damage. if your dog doesn’t cool down, his breathing can slow or stop. He may have seizures or fall into a coma.

So, what should you do if you think your dog has heat stroke?

Dog Heat Stroke Treatment At Home

If your dog has heat stroke, his condition can progress quickly, so take action as soon as you suspect a problem.

1. Get Him Into The Shade

Since heat is the obvious problem, you want to get him out of direct sunlight and into a cooler spot as soon as possible. Find a shady spot under a tree, preferably in a grassy area, which will be cooler than asphalt or concrete.

2. Apply Cool Water

Get water on his inner thighs and stomach where there are more large blood vessels, and on the pads of his feet. Use running water from the faucet or hose. If you’re out on a walk, ask a neighbor if you can use theirs!

3. Air Him Out

To help cool your dog, make sure the water you’re putting on him can evaporate. Don’t cover him up with a wet towel or blanket. Covering him will create a sauna effect instead of allowing the water to evaporate. Keep him in the open air and out of enclosed areas like a kennel. If you can get him near a fan or air condition, or in a breezy spot if you’re outside, that will help.

4. Keep Him Moving

Encourage your dog to stand or slowly walk around while he’s cooling down. You want his cooled blood to circulate throughout his body.

5. Give Him Small Amounts Of Cool (Not Cold )Water

If he gulps down too much water too fast, it can cause vomiting or bloating. But he needs to stay hydrated. If he doesn’t want water, give him chicken or beef broth.

Never give human sports or performance drinks.

RELATED: Here’s a quick and easy bone broth recipe …

6. Get Him To The Vet

Once your dog has started to cool down, take him to his vet right away. You don’t want to keep trying to cool down your dog for too long or you’ll risk him getting hypothermia.

Even if your dog seems fine, he’ll need a veterinary exam. There may be underlying damage to his organs that you can’t see. The effects of heat stroke can continue for 48 to 72 hours.

The most common cause of death following heat stroke is disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC). This happens when the blood coagulates throughout the body. It can occur hours or days after the heat stroke episode. Again, even if your dog seems much better, a vet exam is the best way to make sure.

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Homeopathic Remedies For Heat Stroke In Dogs

Cooling down your overheated dog and getting him to the vet is critical. Homeopathic remedies can help if you have them handy. Use 6C or 30C potency if you have it … but if you have the remedy in a different potency, use whatever you have. Choose the remedy that best fits his symptoms according to the descriptions below. Dose every 5-15 minutes for up to 3 or 4 doses. If he doesn’t seem better, try one of the other remedies listed.

  1. Belladonna – your dog is red, has dilated pupils, bounding pulses, and is burning up, or even comatose use this remedy – and get him to the vet as fast as you can.
  2. Aconitum napellus – This is a good first choice at first sign of heat stroke. If your dog needs this remedy, he may also seem very fearful or anxious.
  3. Gelsemium – If your dog needs this remedy, he may seem very weak and his muscles may be trembling.
  4. Glonoinum – This remedy can help when your dog overheats from too much sun exposure. You may see vomiting and weakness. His heart may pound. His ears and gums may look red, or even alternating from pale to red. HIs eyes may look red and staring, protruding or dry.

For all these remedies, follow the instructions on How To Give A Homeopathic Remedy at the link below. A dose is usually about 3 pellets but the number really doesn’t matter, so you can give more or less.

RELATED: What you need to know about homeopathy for dogs …

How To Prevent Heat Stroke In Dogs

When it comes to heat stroke, . Heatstroke is completely avoidable if you take some precautions

Whether you’re heading out for a hike or your dog’s playing in the backyard, remember these tips:

  • Always be aware of the temperature and the potential for heat stroke.
  • Find spots that offer some shade and a place for your dog to get a break out of direct sunlight.
  • Make sure your dog always has access to cool, clean water and a way to cool himself down. Carry plenty of drinking water and a portable bowl so you can give him a drink if he’s panting.
  • If your dog likes to paddle or swim, on really hot days it’s a great idea to take him for a walk in the woods near a creek or lake.
  • If your dog has a tendency to feel the heat. consider buying a cooling vest or bandana.
  • Don’t ever leave your dog in a parked car on warm days – even with the air conditioning running. AC can fail and make the car hotter by blowing heated air instead of cold.
  • Don’t shave your long haired or double-coated dog in summer. It may seem like he’d be cooler, but it actually makes overheating more likely. Find out why …

Heat stroke is very dangerous for your dog … so be prepared, and don’t let it happen!

References

Bruchim Y, Horowitz M, Aroch I. Pathophysiology of heatstroke in dogs – revisitedTemperature (Austin). 2017;4(4):356-370. Published 2017 Oct 9.

Brandy Tabor CVT VTS (ECC). Heatstroke In Dogs. Today’s Veterinary Practice. September/October 2014.

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