When temperatures rise, organisms are put to the test, and your dog's is no exception! Dogs don't have the ability to cool down like the rest of us, so they are more susceptible to heat stroke. To help you protect your fur ball, we'll explain everything about this phenomenon.
What are the signs that your dog is suffering from heat stroke? How can you prevent it? Our article will answer all the questions you may have about heat stroke.
What is heat stroke in dogs?
Heat stroke is defined as an increase in body temperature, also known as hyperthermia. When the body temperature is too high, heat cannot be released properly. If the situation persists, it can cause digestive problems such as vomiting or diarrhea, but also neurological problems (seizure).
Why are dogs prone to heat stroke?
Dogs are more prone to heat stroke than we are for several reasons.
First of all, their thermoregulation system is more limited than ours. As you may know, furry people cannot sweat like we do to lower their internal temperature. Dogs only have sweat glands under their paw pads, which is not enough to cool their bodies.
Secondly, dogs generally have thick fur that will tend to store heat. This fur will also make it more difficult to cool the body. This is even more true for dark colored dogs, which usually suffer more from the heat.
Finally, panting, which allows dogs to lower their body temperature, is not very effective. In addition, some breeds of dog, especially those with flat snouts such as Boxers and Pugs, have more difficulty ventilating. They are therefore even more likely to develop heat stroke.
Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs
The first sign that should alert you is an increase in respiratory rate. This will result in rapid panting (the dog is trying to regulate its body temperature). Some dogs may also show hypersalivation and/or a change in gum color. Very pale gums are a sign of shock. If the gums are blue, it indicates that the dog is lacking oxygen (cyanosis). Finally, dark gums are a sign that your dog is dehydrated.
The dog may also be restless and may alternate between being down and out.
If the hyperthermia is not controlled, other signs may appear such as digestive system disorders or nervous system disorders such as loss of balance or convulsions.
The dog may even lose consciousness.
Heat stroke is therefore an absolute emergency!
What to do if your dog suffers from heat stroke?
In the event of heat stroke, it is important to act quickly! First of all, inform your veterinarian because your dog needs to be examined.
In the meantime, you should try to cool your dog down. To do this, place wet towels on his body, especially on the inside of his thighs, around his neck or under his paws. You can also put him in front of a fan or air conditioner. Be careful, however, not to give him ice water or a cold bath. This could make the situation worse for your furry friend.
Once you arrive at the vet's office, the vet will continue to lower your dog's body temperature, using IVs and other means. He will also examine the dog to see if the hyperthermia has caused any damage to internal organs.
This is because complications can occur, especially if the heatstroke is not treated quickly. Heatstroke can cause various pathologies such as cerebral oedema, cardiac problems or renal insufficiency. It is therefore important to act very quickly.
Complications may appear in the hours following the heat stroke. It is therefore important to keep a close eye on your pet in the days that follow.
How to prevent heat stroke?
The likelihood of your dog suffering from heatstroke is higher at the beginning of the summer, because his body is not yet used to dealing with high temperatures. So be even more careful when the warm weather starts to arrive.
You should also know that a hot and humid environment is more conducive to heat stroke.
Here are some helpful precautions:
- Never leave your dog in the car. Even for 5 minutes, even in the shade, even in the morning! This is essential because the temperature in the car rises very quickly and can reach 70° in a few minutes.
- Don't make your dog do any physical activity during hot periods, and at the hottest hours. If you're a dog sports fan, it's best to do your session early in the morning, or opt for a water sport that will allow your dog to cool off.
- Make sure your dog always has access to fresh water and shade.
- Be especially careful if your dog is elderly (link to article on elderly dogs), sick, overweight, very young or has a flat nose. These dogs tend to suffer more from the heat than other dogs.
Now you know all about heat stroke in dogs. We hope that this article will help you to adopt the right preventive measures. If you have any tips on how to keep our four-legged friends cool, share them in the comments!