You’re walking along with your 80-pound, long-haired 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 is up with Thor?” Thor is probably on his way to heat stroke.
When Dogs Get Heat Stroke
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 concrete …
… It’s easy to see how he can get much hotter than you can, and much faster.
And it’s dangerous.
A dog’s normal body temperature is somewhere between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees. A dog will start to experience heat stroke at over 105 degrees. At around 106 to 108 degrees, irreversible organ damage can occur. It can even cause death.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has Heat Stroke?
So how can you tell if your dog’s struggling? There are certain things to look for. Pay close attention any time the weather is warm.
The longer your dog suffers, the worse the damage will be.
Always keep a thermometer handy and check his temperature if you suspect heat stroke.
Here are the signs of heat stroke in dogs to watch out for:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive thirst
- Glazed eyes
- 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 and/or diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
NOTE: Breeds with flat faces like Pugs and Boxers, elderly dogs and puppies are at even greater risk. Dogs with existing health conditions will also overheat faster.
If the overheating isn’t stopped, your dog’s breathing will slow or stop, and he can have seizures or fall into a coma. You need to take immediate action if you notice any of these signs.
So, what should you do if you think your dog has heat stroke?
My Dog Has Heat Stroke, What Do I Do?
Things progress quickly when it comes to heat stroke, so as soon as you detect a problem, act.
1. Get Him Into The Shade
Since heat is the obvious problem, the goal is to get him out of it and away from direct sunlight.
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.
3. Air Him Out
To help cool your dog, you want to make sure the water you’re putting on him can evaporate. Don’t cover him up with a wet towel or blanket. Rather than allowing the water to evaporate, this will create a sauna effect. Keep him out of enclosed areas like a kennel. Instead, keep him near flowing air like from a fan or air conditioner.
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.
If he doesn’t want water, give him chicken or beef broth. Never give human performance drinks.
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 continue 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 visit to your vet is the best way to make sure.
3 Homeopathic Remedies For An Overheated Dog
Cooling down your overheated dog and taking him to the vet is critical. You can also give him one of these homeopathic remedies to help in his recovery.
- Aconitum napellus 6C to 30C – 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. Give three pellets every 10 minutes for up to three doses. If he doesn’t seem better, try one of the other remedies listed.
- Gelsemium 30C – If the dog needs this remedy, he may seem very weak and his muscles may be trembling. Give three pellets every 10 minutes for up to three doses. If the dog is not any better, try the next remedy.
- Glonoinum 6C to 30C – You may see vomiting and weakness. His gums may be pale, red or have a bluish cast. Give three pellets every 5 minutes.
Preventing Heat Stroke In Dogs
When it comes to heat stroke, prevention is the best medicine.
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.