How to tell if a dog is suffering from heatstroke
One of the most common causes of heatstroke in dogs occurs when they are left in cars by their owners. Most dog owners recognise this as bad, but some think their dog will be okay if they return quickly. The reality is that cars heat up very fast, even in the mildest of weather. Dogs can die in this situation and suffer terribly. Never leave your dog in a car.
One study found that even on mild days the temperature inside the vehicle rises rapidly to dangerous levels. When the ambient temperature is 22°C the temperature inside a car can rise to over 47°C in 60 minutes. The high temperatures in the car combined with inadequate ventilation mean that the dog cannot lose body heat causing rapid over heating which can be fatal. Animals in these conditions suffer horribly – please Don’t risk it. See RSPCA NSW and the RSPCA Australia Knowledgebase for more information.
Heat stroke can also occur in hot humid weather conditions. If your dog is kept mainly outdoors, ensure they have a well-ventilated and cool shady space that’s out of the sun in which to relax. If you live in an apartment or prefer to keep your pup indoors, ensure the space is well-ventilated and cool (e.g. turn on the air conditioning) when the weather is warm. Of course, your dog should also always have access to fresh drinking water to avoid dehydrating.
Also avoid over-exercising your dog in general and avoid exercising them in hot weather. Wait until the temperature has decreased, for example, by going for a walk in the evening when it is cool.
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog or if you suspect heatstroke, instigate Emergency First Aid at home and then take your dog to the vet immediately.
Emergency First Aid treatment:
What will a vet do for a dog suffering from heatstroke?
Vets are trained to assess the severity of the heatstroke and then provide emergency medical treatment as required. They will check your dog’s body temperature with a thermometer and check their vital signs and then instigate emergency treatment which may include:
What are other predisposing factors for heatstroke in dogs?
** Note ** All dogs are susceptible to heatstroke so owners need to make sure that they take active steps to prevent it. However, some other predisposing factors for dogs can include:
Brachycephalic anatomy (flat-face) is a major risk factor for heatstroke. Adequate snout length is very important for losing body heat. Flat-faced breeds also often suffer from serious obstructive breathing problems which also significantly impairs their ability to lose heat.