Heatstroke and Your Wonderful Woofie...know the Signs


Heatstroke (also know an hyperthermia) is something parents of young children think about plenty in the summer. But humans aren’t the only ones that can suffer from heatstroke. Pets can too.

Heatstroke isn’t always on pet owners’ radars, but failing to recognize the signs can be extremely dangerous — even deadly — to your beloved furry friend. Dogs are the most at-risk because they spend more time outdoors and traveling with us in vehicles than other pets. As dog lovers, we want our companions to do everything with us — especially when summertime comes.

Know the signs

That’s why it’s crucial to know the signs of heatstroke and keep an eye out for them when you’re outdoors in warm weather, or traveling with your pet. Excessive heat that rises your dog’s body temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit can cause severe, potentially fatal, damage to your dog’s brain, heart and liver.

There are five signs you must never ignore that indicate your pup is in heat-related distress:

1. Rapid Panting

Dogs pant to regulate their body temperature and stay cool. Some amount of panting is normal, and healthy. However, when panting isn’t enough, their body temperature can quickly rise to dangerous levels.

The minute you notice panting, get your dog out of the heat, to a cool or shady area, with access to plenty of fresh water.

2. Color changes in the tongue and/or gums

Checking the color of his tongue and gums is a good proactive measure to keep your dog’s body temperature cool. The tongue and gums can become darker red in color as body temperature rises.

A more pale than normal color in the gums can also be a sign of heatstroke, as it can indicate oxygen deficiency. If you notice this, head indoors or for the shade and allow your dog access to plenty of cool water. If you think oxygen depletion is occurring, call your vet or get to an emergency vet department immediately.

3. Depression/Lethargy

If your dog is lethargic, not getting up, or off balance, these can all be very serious signs of heatstroke that should never be ignored. This behavior can be the result of internal organ damage brought on by excessive heat.

4. Vomiting/Diarrhea

These symptoms can be a result of dehydration and/or internal distress brought on by heat. If your dog is having diarrhea or vomiting as a result of heat, offer her fresh water and call your vet immediately.

5. Unresponsiveness/Coma

Coma is a depressed level of consciousness. He may initially act confused, and not obey commands. Stupor can progress to a total loss of consciousness. If your dog is not responding and cannot be awakened, call your vet and get him to a care center immediately.

Remember, dogs can’t tell us they’re in distress. While we often think of them as just another family member, we must remember that our dogs can’t tell us they’re too hot or don’t feel well. By the time they’re showing outward signs of distress, the situation can already be extremely serious.

It’s up to us to take every precaution to keep our pooches safe from overheating, whether outdoors, indoors, or traveling in a vehicle. Wherever your dog happens to be accompanying you, pack plenty of fresh water and select activities where it will be easy to find shade and cool temps.

If your pet will be accompanying you anywhere that will require her spending time alone in a vehicle or RV, make sure you have a proper pet temperature monitor to ensure the vehicle stays at a safe temperature. These monitors can be used inside your home while you’re away too.

By being proactive and sensible you can keep your dog safe this summer!


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Images, illustrations & text copyright 2016 Alana Holst.

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© Alana Holst 

Located in High River, Alberta CANADA

The information contained in this website is subject to change at any time, as we continue to learn, research and grow in the development of the healthiest possible puppies for our families at Big Rock Labradoodles and information on website is not a contractual agreement between Big Rock Labradoodles and current/new clients.