As temperatures rise, dog owners need to know the dangers of heatstroke in dogs. This life-threatening condition can occur quickly. In this blog post, our vets in Seattle discuss the causes of heatstroke, its signs, what to do if your dog shows symptoms, when to seek veterinary care, and how to prevent heatstroke in dogs.

What causes heatstroke in dogs?

Heatstroke in dogs is caused by an inability to regulate their body temperature in excessively hot conditions. Dogs primarily cool themselves through panting, which can be insufficient in extreme heat. Factors that contribute to heatstroke include high temperatures, humidity, lack of shade or water, and strenuous exercise. Certain breeds with thick fur or short noses, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, are particularly susceptible.

Is heatstroke in dogs an emergency?

Yes, heatstroke in dogs is a medical emergency. Without immediate intervention, it can lead to severe complications or even death. It's crucial to act quickly if you notice any heatstroke symptoms in dogs to prevent long-term damage or fatal outcomes.

Heatstroke Symptoms in Dogs

During spring and summer, watch carefully for signs of heatstroke in dogs, including any combination of the following symptoms:

  • Mental “dullness” or flatness
  • Red gums
  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Signs of discomfort
  • Unable or unwilling to move (or uncoordinated movement)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Collapsing or loss of consciousness

These heatstroke symptoms in dogs can escalate rapidly, so monitoring your pet closely during hot weather is important.

What To Do If Your Dog Shows Signs of Heatstroke

If you see any signs of heatstroke in your dog, move it to a cooler area with good air circulation. If the symptoms persist or you cannot take your dog's temperature, contact your vet immediately. If you can, use a rectal thermometer to take your dog's temperature.

If it's above 104°F, it's an emergency, and your dog needs to see a vet. If it's above 105°F, use a fan to cool (not cold) your dog's body with cool (not cold) water. Contact your vet or the nearest emergency vet for further instructions.

Heatstroke is a serious condition, so take your dog to the vet immediately, regardless of whether you can reduce its temperature.

How to Help Prevent Your Dog From Getting Heatstroke

To help prevent your pup from getting heatstroke, be very cautious about how much time your dog spends outside or in the sun during the summer. Do not expose your dog to heat and humidity - their bodies (especially those with short faces) cannot handle it.

NEVER leave your dog in a car with closed windows - even if you park in the shade. Provide your pup with lots of shade to retreat to and easy access to cool water. A well-ventilated dog crate or specially designed dog seat belt may also work well.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs should never be ignored! If your dog shows signs of heatstroke, contact us immediately at Madison Park Veterinary Hospital, or take your pet to the nearest 24/7 emergency animal clinic for urgent care.