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    Protecting Your Dog from Heatstroke This Summer

    Protecting Your Dog from Heatstroke This Summer

    It’s been a long time, but the sun is finally shining. While we enjoy better weather, higher temperatures can be dangerous for our pets if we don’t care for them when it is warm. Heatstroke is a very serious condition. Normal body temperature for a dog tends to sit between 38-39°C (100.4-102.2°F), which can rise a little if the dog is unwell and has a fever. If your dog’s body temperature goes above 40°C (104°F), they are at risk of heatstroke, which can cause seizures, organ damage, internal bleeding, coma and even death.

    Heatstroke is a condition that can strike even the healthiest of dogs. The majority of cases occur during exercise in hot weather, but it can also develop if your dog is trapped in a hot environment, such as a car or in the garden where there is no shelter from the sun. The severity of this condition should not be underestimated.

    If your dog shows any signs of heatstroke, it is essential to start first aid immediately. The quicker your dog is cooled down, the better its chance of recovering fully. Certain breeds and types of dogs are more susceptible to the heat, such as brachycephalic (flat-faced), giant breeds and those with long or thick coats. Elderly, very young and obese dogs are also vulnerable, so take extra care to ensure they are cool and comfortable.

    Heatstroke in brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs

    Dogs regulate their temperature through their noses by expelling their body heat. Brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced) have much shorter nasal passages and struggle to release the heat they should. They are much more susceptible to overheating or heatstroke, even when it’s cool. It is important to take extra care if your dog is one of these breeds. Boston Terrier, Pug, English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Dog de Bordeaux, Pomeranian, or Shih Tzu.


    First Aid for Heatstroke in Dogs

    If you suspect your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, it's important to act quickly, but also to remain calm. Remember, the most effective first aid for heatstroke is to cool your dog down. By following these steps, you can significantly increase your dog's chances of recovery.

    If your dog is outdoors, move it indoors to a cool room or into the shade, preferably a cool, hard surface. Gently and slowly pour cold tap water over their entire body so they don’t panic until completely soaked.

    If your dog is used to water and will let you submerge them in water (apart from their head), that will be a quicker way to cool them down. Once they are wet, create a breeze by opening your doors and windows or using a fan if you have one. Letting them lie on a cold, wet towel or a cool mat is also a good idea.

    While it is important for your dog to drink, don’t force them; offer clean, fresh water and let them drink when they want to.

    Now wrap some ice or frozen vegetables in a towel and place them between your dog’s thighs, or lie them on the ice pack if they are too small. Don’t cuddle, stroke, or cover them with a wet towel; this will prevent them from cooling down.


    Call your vet as soon as possible.

    Once you have completed your first aid, it is essential that you go to your nearest vet. Contact them to let them know you have a dog with suspected heatstroke, so they are ready to see your pet as soon as you arrive. As speed is essential, travel to the vet by car, ideally with air conditioning, but at the very least, open all the windows and, if possible, take someone with you who can continue the first aid cooling treatment on route.

    How will the vet treat my dog’s heatstroke?

    Your vet will focus on reducing your dog’s temperature as quickly as possible, using water, fans, and, if necessary, a fluid drip. If your dog is so hot that it is struggling to breathe, experiencing seizures, or losing consciousness, it may also need oxygen, medication, or anaesthesia.

    Severe heatstroke can cause other problems that aren’t visible, such as problems with blood clotting and damage to internal organs. If the vet believes your dog is showing signs of severe heatstroke, they may need to run some tests to check how their internal organs are working properly. In these circumstances, your dog may need to stay in the hospital for a while to be monitored and given medication to prevent further damage.

    Once your pet has recovered, you will be able to take it home, but you will still need to monitor it for up to 48 hours and watch for signs of illness, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, confusion, unsteadiness, and lack of appetite or thirst. Your vet will probably want to see your dog again to ensure they have fully recovered and may also want to run some blood or urine tests.

    Health outlook for your dog after heatstroke

    If your dog suffered mild heatstroke and was cooled down quickly, it is unlikely to have any lasting problems and will probably recover fully. If, however, it had severe heatstroke and, as a result, had some organ damage or the treatment was delayed, then they are much less likely to recover.

    Cost of Heatstroke Vet Treatment

    If your pet is poorly and needs emergency treatment, it can be frightening, and it is natural to worry about how much it will cost, especially if it is admitted to the hospital for tests, treatment, and 24-hour care. While we always keep our fees as low as possible, if you have or are thinking of bringing a dog into your family, seriously consider taking out pet insurance as soon as they come into your life. At least you will have peace of mind if they become sick or injured.

    Concerned About Your Dog? Act Now!

    Animal Trust is a trading name of Animal Trust Vets CIC, a community interest company registered in England and Wales. Company Registration No: 07938025

    Registered Office: Animal Trust Administration Centre, Cedab Road, Ellesmere Port, CH65 4FE