Heatstroke in dogs is when your pet becomes too hot and is unable to self regulate their body temperature. It’s a type of nonpyrogenic hyperthermia, which means their temperature rises, caused by external factors (not a fever). Dogs carry a lot of fur, so to them, a walk outside on a hot day is the equivalent to us wearing a fur coat in 26c!
There are two types of heat stroke, exertional and non-exertional. Exertional occurs when your dog is exercising in hot weather and they haven’t been able to adjust to the increase in temperature (it can take dogs 60 days to acclimatise). Non-exertional is when your dog is in a warmer environment and has no access to air or cool water, such as in a car, an unshaded area or a hot environment.
Unlike humans, dogs don’t have sweat glands on furry areas of their body, so it’s not as easy for them to cool down naturally. However, dogs can sweat via the sweat glands around their nose and on their paws but this is limited in relation to their body mass.
Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs
Dog Breeds More Susceptible to Heatstroke
Overweight dogs or flat-faced breeds (brachycephalic pets) such as French Bulldogs and Pugs are more susceptible to heatstroke.
Overweight dogs have increased body mass and naturally more fur, so their body temperature rises quicker. Brachycephalic dogs can suffer from a narrow upper respiratory tract and narrow nostrils which can obstruct the airway and restrict airflow, which is required as dogs pant to circulate air through their body.
How to prevent heatstroke in dogs
Treatment for Heatstroke in Dogs
Heatstroke acts quickly and the signs can often be tricky to spot. The most accurate way to treat heatstroke in dogs is to check your dog’s body temperature using a rectal thermometer. Your dog’s temperature should be no higher than 40ºC.
If you are out walking your dog and you suspect they are suffering from heatstroke, please take them to your nearest vet immediately. Heatstroke can be fatal if left untreated.