Heatstroke in Dogs: Would You Know What to Do?

Australia barely ranks in the countries with the highest average yearly temperature. Still, as anyone who calls Australia home will know, it can become pretty darn hot down under. Now just imagine having to deal with extreme temperatures while wearing a fur coat, or rather, a fur coat you can't take off. This is precisely the dilemma your dog can face, which is why it's important for all Australian puppy parents to recognise the signs of heatstroke in dogs.

Risk Factors

All dogs can be affected by heatstroke, but there are some risk factors. Puppies and elderly dogs are more susceptible, as are dogs with longer coats or dogs classified as brachycephalic, as they are more likely to be affected by brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome. What are some of the signs that your dog might be experiencing heatstroke?

Regulating Body Heat

Heatstroke is more likely to occur on hot days when your dog has been exercising or has been confined in an unventilated area. The temperature essentially overwhelms your dog's ability to regulate their body heat. Quick treatment is essential and, in severe cases, can be lifesaving. 

Your Immediate Response

You must attempt to cool your dog by removing them from direct heat, ideally into a climate-controlled room. When the signs of heatstroke were only minor (warm to the touch, excessive panting and drooling), then your dog might recover without the need for further treatment. But when your dog doesn't quickly return to their normal self, or when additional symptoms can be observed, then you might be dealing with an emergency.

Seeking Emergency Treatment

In cases of extreme heat stroke, your dog can become lethargic, unresponsive, and unsteady on their feet. They can also be affected by muscle tremors, seizures, and can even lapse into unconsciousness. Your dog must be taken to an emergency vet clinic immediately. Failure to do so can endanger your dog's life. They will be medically rehydrated, and their temperature will be regulated. This can involve immersion in a cold bath. Given that heatstroke can affect organ function, your dog might require a comprehensive medical assessment to rule out further complications from their episode.

Heatstroke in dogs can be life-threatening and has the ability to inflict some very serious damage. This is why it's absolutely essential to recognise the warning signs so you can take quick action to help your pooch.  

If you have any questions about heatstroke in dogs, talk to a vet in your area.