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Heat Stroke: What to do if Your Dog Overheats

Cane Bay Summerville - Heat Stroke OverheatIt’s only May, and so far, South Carolina has already experienced some 90-degree days. The heat and humidity will only continue to worsen as spring gives way to summer. While the heat may be a welcomed warmth for some people after the cooler winter weather, our pets, who are covered in fur, may not be as excited about it as we are.

Previously, we discussed how to beat the South Carolina heat. However, what if you notice your pooch has been acting funny and you’re worried he has already overheated? What signs should you look for to ensure you get him immediate veterinary assistance, if necessary?

Below we’ll discuss signs and symptoms of heat stroke, as well as what to do if you think your dog has overheated.

Signs to Look For:

Most veterinarians agree on a pretty universal list of signs to look for when it comes to heat stroke in a canine:

  • Excessive panting and saliva
  • Increased thirst
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Elevated body temperature (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • A dark red tongue and gums
  • Vomiting or bloody diarrhea
  • Glazed over eyes
  • Inability to walk straight, staggering
  • Weakness and collapsing
  • Increased drooling
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

IMPORTANT: If your dog’s body temperature is above 109 degrees Fahrenheit, heatstroke is inevitable. You need immediate veterinary assistance. According to Healthy Pets, once a dog’s body temperature gets that high, his cells will start to die, ulcers begin forming, brain swelling causes seizures and dehydration damages the kidneys. All of these things take place incredibly quickly.

*Have a thermometer handy that is just for your pooch. Most often, you have to take your dog’s temperature rectally, but doing so could save his life. If you notice any symptoms from the above list in your dog, take his temperature.

If it is below 104 degrees Fahrenheit, you can begin to bring his body temperature down with the tips below. However, you may still want to call your veterinarian even after you begin to cool your dog to see if he should come in and to receive follow up advice.

If it’s above 104 degrees Fahrenheit or above, take your pooch to the vet hospital immediately while still attempting to lower your dog’s body temperature on the way.

How to Help Lower Your Dog’s Body Temperature:

If his body temperature is at or below 104 degrees Fahrenheit:

  • Move Your Dog to a Cool Area: If you’re outside, immediately get your dog in the shade. If possible, moving him to an air-conditioned room inside is preferable.
  • Give Him Water: If your dog is conscious and able to drink, give him water to replenish lost fluids. However, avoid giving him too much water. If he begins to throw up from overdrinking, the dehydration could become worse. Never put water in your dog’s mouth if he is unable to swallow on his own. The water could get into his lungs.
  • Lower His Body Temperature with a Cool Bath, Hose, or Wet Towels: Bring down your dog’s body temperature by dousing him in cool (but not cold) water. You can do this by placing him in a bathtub, spraying him with the hose, or by taking cool towels and placing them on his body. Make sure to get the cool water on your dog’s head, neck, near the groin and under the front and back legs.
  • Keep the Airflow Going: It could be useful to use a fan as well, to keep the air circulating and to further cool down his body temperature.

If his body temperature is above 104 degrees Fahrenheit:

If your dog’s body temperature is above 104 degrees, or if he is unconscious, practice the steps listed above to lower his temperature, but also take your pet to the vet hospital immediately. You can begin the cooling process by blasting air conditioning and having cool towels on your dog while en route to the hospital. Healthy Pets also suggests calling ahead of time, so the vet knows you’re coming and can prepare.

IMPORTANT: Once your dog’s body temperature has lowered to below 104 degrees Fahrenheit, stop cooling him down. If you cool him down too much, additional problems can occur such as blood clotting.

Important precautions:

  • Never ever leave your dog in a car during the summer.
  • Be mindful of over-exercise during the heat.
  • On those extra hot days, leave your pooch inside in the air conditioning during the hottest part of the day.

We hope you were able to learn a few tips about what to do if your dog gets overheated. If you enjoyed our article, please feel free to share it, especially as summer’s hot temperatures are approaching!

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