Summer often means happy times and bright sunshine with lots of outdoor activities and having fun. But, as the temperature rises, the chances of dogs becoming susceptible to heat stroke increases. Veterinarians say that they are presented with lots of cases of heatstroke during summer, some mild and some severe. As summer begins, you need to take our four legged friends into consideration and learn how you can protect them from potentially harmful situations.

Dogs do not sweat through their skin like we humans do. They release their heat primarily through panting and they sweat through their footpads and nose. However, if they can’t expel heat through panting and sweating, their internal body temperature begins to rise resulting heatstroke.

Heatstroke is a form of non-fever hyperthermia. It occurs when normal body mechanism cannot accommodate excessive external heat. Dogs with mild heatstroke (body temperature from 104º to 106ºF) can recover within an hour of quick first aid, while severe heatstroke can be dangerous and needs immediate medical attention. You need to recognize the signs of heatstroke and prevent it from happening to your dog, as it can lead to multiple organ dysfunctions or even death.

Signs of Heatstroke

The initial signs and symptoms that dogs suffering from heatstroke display are:

Dog Days of Summer

  1. Excessive or heavy panting

  2. Hyperventilation (deep breathing)

  3. Bright red tongue

  4. Red or pale gums and moist tissues of the body.

  5. Thick, sticky saliva

  6. Shallow respiratory efforts

  7. Depression

  8. Weakness

  9. Confusion or inattention

  10. Dizziness

  11. Vomiting – sometimes with blood

  12. Diarrhea

  13. Seizures

  14. Collapse

  15. Coma 

Protection from Heatstroke

  1. Provide access to fresh clean drinking water at all times and make sure their dish is out of the sun.  

  2. Take your dog for swimming or sprinkle them with cool water on hot days.

  3. Avoid walking your dog on hot pavement or beach.

  4. Exercise your dog early in the morning or after sunset when the sun is least harsh.  

  5. Regularly check your dog for ticks and fleas. Look into purchasing a pet-safe bug repellent to prevent them from insect bites.

  6. Don’t take your dog to crowded summer events. It can be physically and emotionally challenging for your dog causing them to suffer from anxiety and stress.

  7. Don’t give summer shave to your dog, if they spend lots of time outdoors. Dogs fur provides protection from the sun, biting flies, and mosquitos.

  8. Provide access to shade at all times to your outside dogs.

  9. Use sunscreen on your dog depending on the sensitivity of their skin. Check with the vet to find the best sunscreen solution for your dog.

  10. Never leave your dog in a parked car, no matter how brief a time. Leave them at home where they can remain, cool, hydrated and safe.

Preventive Measures of Heatstroke

  1. Remove your dog from hot surrounding into a cool place

  2. Lower your dog’s temperature by applying cold water on the skin. Either immerse your dog up to head in cold water or spray them with cold water, especially groin.

  3. Let your dog rest in cool place with some fresh drinking water

  4. Seek immediate attention from Veterinary care.