“Heatstroke is more dangerous than it’s given credit for at this time of year, especially for dogs with very thick or dark-coloured coats. It’s important for owners to be aware of the threat of heatstroke because awareness leads to prevention, and prevention leads to happy pets.
Heatstroke: what is it exactly?
Dogs can only sweat through their noses and the bottoms of their paws. To cool down, they rely mainly on panting. Heatstroke occurs when the dog can’t cool themselves down effectively enough from panting. Because of the extreme heat of their environment, the dog’s body temperature continues to rise and in extreme cases, their organs can begin to shut down, which can be fatal.
Symptoms of heatstroke can include:
- Laboured breathing or heavy panting
- Redness of the tongue
- Sticky gums
- Drooling excessively
- Pressing their head to the wall
- Circling or general restlessness
- Dizziness – they may appear lethargic, drowsy or slow
If you notice your dog displaying any of these symptoms, you’ll need to take action right away. It’s also worth pointing out that the best way of dealing with heatstroke is prevention. Don’t wait for symptoms to occur before you take action, keep your dog cool and hydrated throughout the day when the weather is warm.
What to do if your dog has heatstroke?
Act fast – but do your best to stay calm. Remove your dog from the heat quickly – to the coolest room in the house if you’re at home or to a shaded area if you’re outside. Cool your dog down by wetting their fur and offering them water to drink. Do both of these things slowly and use cool (not ice-cold) water. Wet a towel and dab your dog’s fur with it; encourage them to drink little and often and it’s always worth contacting your vet in these situations as heatstroke can be very dangerous.
Heatstroke prevention tips
A few simple measures can drastically lower your dog’s chances of getting heatstroke. These include:
- Make sure your dog has access to shade at all times – be careful around large open fields
- Walk your dog during cooler times of the day and avoid the midday sun
- When walking, bring plenty of water for your dog
- Avoid walking your dog on hot asphalt/concrete – if you can’t keep your hand on it for long, imagine how your dog feels walking on it!
- Use sun cream if your dog’s fur is pale or thin
- Take furrier dogs to the groomers
- And never, ever leave your dog alone in the car!
But most importantly, stay alert. You know your dog better than anyone but never underestimate the sun, and how quickly dogs – just like humans – can become dehydrated in the absence of shade and fresh water.”