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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • June 2018
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How to recognize signs of heat stroke in dogs

Summer is a great time of year for people and their pets to enjoy the great outdoors and soak up some sun. Just as men and women exercise caution by applying sunscreen and staying hydrated on hot summer days, dog owners must take steps to protect their four-legged friends when bringing them outdoors.

Heat stroke can pose a serious threat to dogs on hot days. Dog owners who routinely take their pets outdoors in summer must learn how to protect canines from heat stroke and how to recognize its symptoms.

What is heat stroke?

Dogs suffer from heat stroke when their body temperatures exceed 104 F and the built-in mechanisms they rely on to cool themselves - including panting - cease to function properly. But any temperature 103 F or above is considered abnormal. According to PetMD, heat stroke is a form of non-fever hyperthermia that can lead to multiple organ dysfunction.

Is heat stroke immediately evident?

Heat stroke can overwhelm dogs quickly, so dog owners should be especially diligent and watch their dogs closely when they are spending time outside on hot days. Dogs may first suffer from mild heat-related stress or moderate exhaustion before they begin experiencing the more severe symptoms of heat stroke, so dog owners should look for signs of stress or fatigue and bring their dogs inside immediately after noticing such symptoms. The consequences of heat stroke are severe, so dog owners should always err on the side of caution.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke?

Dogs that are overheating and potentially suffering from heat stroke may exhibit a number of symptoms. Such symptoms are typically easy to spot, but dog owners still must pay close attention to their four-legged friends during summertime walks or play sessions in the backyard. According to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, signs that a dog is overheating include:

  • Panting followed by disorientation and fast, noisy breathing
  • Collapsing or convulsing
  • Bright red or blue gums
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Vomit and diarrhea connected to heat stroke may contain blood. In addition, the eyes of dogs suffering from heat stroke may be glazed-over and such dogs may be unresponsive to commands, or their replies to commands may be slower than usual.

Can heat stroke be prevented?

Though dogs can suffer heat stroke even on mild days, dog owners can take precautionary measures.

  • Alter routines. Walking can be great exercise for dogs, but on hot days dog owners can walk their dogs when temperatures tend to be at their most mild, such as in the early morning hours or evenings when the sun is setting or has already set.
  • Limit play time. Dogs generate heat when playing and exercising, and their body temperatures may rise considerably on hot summer days. To reduce dogs’ risk of heat stroke, limit play time on hot days.
  • Don’t travel with dogs. Temperatures can be unbearable inside vehicles, so dog owners should not take their dogs along when running errands on hot days.

Dog owners must be especially mindful of their dogs’ behavior on hot days. Protecting dogs from extreme heat can safeguard them from heat stroke, which can be fatal. 


Source: MetroCreative Connection.

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