What to do if your dog gets a heatstroke

A heat stroke can be life-threatening for a dog. These are the causes, symptoms and what to do if it happens.

Perro en el jardín tomando el sol

Did you know dogs are more affected by heat than people? They don’t transpire the same way we do, in fact, they only slightly sweat through the pads on their paws and regulate their internal temperature by opening their mouths. During the summer you have to be especially vigilant so that your dog does not suffer a heat stroke, something that can be very dangerous and even fatal.

To begin with, a dog’s temperature is about 38 degrees and it is considered normal even if it reaches 39.2 degrees, but no more than that. However, the dog’s temperature may rise after exercise or being in the sun. On the other hand, puppies have a lower body temperature than adults. It is considered normal if it is between 34 and 36 degrees.

How do you know if your dog is suffering from a heat stroke? If its temperature exceeds 40 degrees and the dog is neither sick nor has a fever, it is experiencing a heat stroke. It is very important to be clear that, if the dog’s temperature rises by one or two degrees more, there could be irreparable damage to some organs.

Causes of heat stroke

The most common causes of a dog’s heat stroke are related to the owner’s inattention and neglect. It sounds strong, but it does, most of the time this happens it’s because of us. Here are the most common causes of heat stroke in dogs:

-       The dog lies down to sunbathe and falls asleep. It is true that our pet needs its dose of sun to metabolise vitamin D. The problem is that the dog falls asleep and spends more time than it should under the sun. Its body temperature will rise and it may not even be able to move. Therefore, it is best to observe the dog and move it to a shady spot.

-          Walks during the hottest times throughout the day. It is clear that the dog needs to go for walks. In that case, take it out for a walk during the cooler hours of the day.

-       Leaving the dog in the car. A car during the summer can easily become an oven and a vehicle parked in the sun can reach up to 80 degrees. Do not leave your dog in the car even with the air conditioning on.

-       Leaving your dog outside of the house all day isn’t good for it either, as it will have to sit in the sun through the hottest hours of the day.

Symptoms of heat stroke

The most obvious symptoms that the dog is suffering from heat stroke are the following:

-       The dog gasps very fast and intensely.

-       It is nervous.

-       It is weak, may not be able to move.

-       Its gums turn blue from lack of oxygen.

-       It has spasms or trembles.

What to do in the event of a heat stroke

First of all, if you suspect that your dog is suffering from a heat stroke, we must act quickly, leaving fear and nerves aside.

The first thing to do is take it to the coolest place you have access to. Then apply water all over its body, especially on its head, belly and armpits. Ice cubes can be used along the body as well, but without leaving them for long in one area. It is important for the dog to drink fresh water, but it cannot be too cold. If the animal cannot move much, give it to the dog with your hands or use a syringe. You have to try to get it to drink water, but not a lot of it because it could be counterproductive.

Once you have carried out these emergency measures, take it to the veterinarian to examine it and determine if internal damage has occurred.

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