Heatstroke in dogs
Heatstroke is caused by an inability for the dog to maintain its normal temperature due to environmental circumstances, usually because it is stuck in a car or tethered in the sun. Remember that unlike us, dogs cannot simply take off their coats – they will heat up a lot faster than we will and stay hotter for longer, as they are not as well built for relieving excess heat.
The symptoms of heatstroke can be very obvious to spot once you know what you are looking for. Excessive drooling, rapid breathing and a lack of coordination are external, visual signifiers that you should always be on the lookout for. Should you notice these signs, and feel the top of your dog’s head is hot, seek immediate medical advice from your vet. The reason heatstroke is so dangerous is that body temperatures often get as high as 41.5 degrees Celsius, and without quick cooling, severe brain damage and death will occur.
How you can help
There are steps you can take to reduce the harm from heatstroke should it unfortunately occur. Start by removing your dog from the hot environment into cool shade or a well-ventilated area. Immerse the dog in a cold bath, or continuously hose the dog with cold water – in either case, keep this treatment consistent for at least thirty minutes. To lower the body temperature and reduce the risk of damage occurring, apply ice packs to the top of the dog’s head, and keep them there whilst transporting the dog to the vets.
From this point on your vet will be able to help your dog, and if you have responded quickly enough your pet will be fine. Remember that hot weather will affect your dog much more than yourself, so keep a close eye on how your dog is acting and do not hesitate if you believe something is wrong.