Did you know that dogs do not sweat? Yes, they do. Dogs do not have developed perspiration through sweat glands. That is why they are much more sensitive than us when it comes to withstand high temperatures, and there can be cases of heat stroke in dogs. This fact must be treated urgently by the veterinarian if you want to get him to survive.
In this article of Las Almenas we want to talk about heat stroke in dogs, so that you know how to identify and prevent it.
What is heat stroke in dogs?
As we have already told you, dogs do not sweat like us. This makes it more difficult for them to cool down in hot weather. To eliminate excess body temperature, your dog’s body relies almost exclusively on panting, which is the rapid breathing that is very typical in dogs.
Thus, when the dog suffers a rise in body temperature, a hyperthermia, and has difficulty lowering that temperature that can reach up to 42 ºC, then a serious health problem is triggered, a collapse, a shock that we know as heat stroke in dogs.
Since this temperature is incompatible with life, an urgent visit to the veterinarian is essential for survival.
Why does heat stroke occur in dogs?
Basically, when the outside temperature reaches or exceeds the dog’s body temperature (around 38 ºC) is the moment when the problems that can lead to heat stroke in dogs begin.
To prevent this serious problem, you should pay attention to the different situations that pose a risk of heat stroke in dogs and that you should always avoid:
- Leaving your dog inside a car, on a balcony or terrace in the sun when it is hot or summer.
- Taking your dog for a walk or exercise at midday in summer or in times of intense heat.
- Taking the dog for a walk on the asphalt on hot days, as well as on the sand of the beach if it is very hot.
- Keeping the dog for a long time in unshaded places on hot days.
- Do not hydrate or do not leave water within the dog’s reach.
In addition, you should be more attentive to your dog’s temperature if he suffers from heart or lung diseases that make it difficult for him to breathe in hot weather. Also those brachycephalic breeds, since their particular physical condition means that the airways do not have the appropriate diameter for good breathing.
How to identify heat stroke in dogs?
The symptoms that can be seen when a heat stroke occurs in dogs are of different kinds and can occur one or several at the same time. Therefore, if in doubt or if you notice a first sign that makes you think that your dog is in danger, you should go to the veterinary emergency room.
The symptoms linked to heat stroke in dogs are:
- Very pronounced panting, you notice that the dog has trouble breathing normally.
- Thick saliva.
- Fever, especially if the body temperature is above 40 ºC. -Hot pads.
- Very hot pads.
- Cyanosis, i.e. the skin takes on a bluish hue, which corresponds to a lack of oxygen in the blood.
- Petechiae, which are small red spots of blood that appear on the dog’s skin.
- Shock, tremors and convulsions.
- Kidney and liver failure.
What can I do if my dog has heat stroke?
If you notice that your dog is suffering from one or more of these symptoms, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible. However, while you are at the vet’s office, you should try to bring his temperature down. To do so, you can cool him with water that is not too cold to avoid vasoconstriction. You should also take him to a cool, air-conditioned room.
If you do not have a place to bathe him, you can apply cold to his head with an ice pack. The most important thing is to give him/her water regularly, little by little, to avoid dehydration.
Be careful not to think that the danger has passed! Even if you have managed to cool him down and his temperature has dropped, you will still have to take him to the vet. In this way, your veterinarian will do some blood tests to check that your dog’s internal organs are not damaged and that the whole organism is working properly.
What NOT to do with heat stroke in dogs
With all your good intentions, you may do certain actions that, instead of improving your dog’s health, can make it worse:
- Do not cover your dog with wet towels because the heat from his body, being covered, does not come out, remaining inside.
- Do not try to reduce the fever with ice water, this could cause brain damage.
- Once you have managed to get the fever down to 42 ºC, you do not need to keep cooling him because you could cause hypothermia.
- Do not feed him, since, during heat stroke in dogs, swallowing may be difficult and he could choke.
- Do not force him to walk. Keep in mind that the dog is weakened and if you force him to move, he may become even worse.
Consequences of heat stroke in dogs
Heat stroke is a very serious situation that sometimes leads to the death of the animal, or permanent sequelae if it manages to survive.
At the cardiovascular level, rapid dehydration can lead to a state of shock, since the blood pressure is not sufficient to maintain organic activity. It is frequent that the blood coagulation capacity is modified, and that hemorrhages of varying degrees occur. In addition, the kidneys and liver are unable to perform their functions, which is known as renal and hepatic insufficiency. The nervous system is also considerably altered, and cerebral edema may appear.
All these conditions can go unnoticed, that is why it is essential to be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
How long does heat stroke last in dogs?
Basically, the duration of the acute phase of heat stroke will depend on the time it takes to take him to the emergency room. The sooner the veterinarian sees the dog, the sooner treatment will begin and the temperature will come down. However, heat stroke can also have consequences in the following days, so the dog may have to be observed for a while because there is a high risk of developing renal or systemic damage.
What treatments and care does the veterinarian provide?
Your veterinarian is the best person to answer these questions, but normally, the veterinarian will administer oxygen and intravenously provide mineral salts and hydration.
Depending on the symptoms and vital signs, the veterinarian may give additional medication and, if necessary, keep the dog under observation and hospitalize it.
Once the dog is stable, your veterinarian will again perform tests to check how the dog’s vital organs are doing.
Tips to prevent heat stroke in dogs
From Las Almenas we want to give you these simple tips to keep your pet as cool as possible and prevent heat stroke in dogs:
- Do not walk or expose your dog during the hottest hours of the day, logical, right? You will notice that when it is very hot dogs have hanging tongues.
- Avoid keeping your dog in areas that are too hot and poorly ventilated, such as a room that is too small with closed windows, a veranda,…
- DO NOT leave your dog locked in the car for even five minutes, even if it is parked in the shade, as the inside of the car overheats very quickly. When you travel with him in the car, do it safely and use the air conditioning.
- When you go outside, always carry water for him to drink regularly and to wet his head frequently.
- If your dog has his own kennel outside, make sure it is shaded and always stocked with fresh water.
Do not shave his coat, as the fur serves to protect him from possible sunburn and helps him to regulate his body temperature.
We hope these tips will help you and that you will never find yourself in a situation of heat stroke in dogs. If you want to tell us about your experience, you can write us in the comments box or on our Facebook and Instagram profiles, as well as on our YouTube Channel. From Las Almenas we encourage you to enjoy the good weather, but with care, pampering and lots of common sense!