What to Do If You Suspect Your Dog Has Heat Stroke?

Did you know that dogs have very limited amounts of sweat glands around their paw pads? That means they can’t sweat enough to cool down when it’s very warm, which can cause their body temperature to go up. When their temperature gets too high, they can have a heat stroke. If your dog is overweight, short-nosed (brachycephalic), elderly, has a thick coat, or is suffering from medical conditions, they might be at an increased risk of having a heat stroke.

If you think your dog is suffering from a heat stroke, look for:

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Extreme thirst
  • Disorientation
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Pale or bright red gums and tongue
  • Collapse

What can you do if your dog exhibits some of these signs?

  • Bring your dog to a cooler area as soon as possible (indoor with air-conditioning or in the shade)
  • Cool your dog down by using cool (never cold!) water on the neck and back, or by using a wet cloth on his or her ears, paw pads and armpits
  • Offer plenty of cool water but do not force them to drink it
  • If you have rubbing alcohol, use cotton balls to rub some of the paw pads. Alcohol evaporates quickly bringing heat with it
  • Call your veterinarian! Even if your dog appears to have recovered, serious complications can still happen
    *** It’s important not to cool your dog too fast because it will cause them to go into shock!

How can you prevent it?

  • Don’t leave your dog in a car with the windows up (even if the car is in the shade!)
  • Provide plenty of water when outside
  • Make sure they have access to shaded spots or cooler areas to rest
  • Avoid bringing your dog outside to play during the hottest time of the day (11am-3pm). It’s better to take walks early in the morning or late in the evening
  • You can invest in a cooling vest if your dog is going to be active when it’s hot outside

With this knowledge in hand, we wish you and your dog a happy and safe summer!

If you have any questions about heatstroke, give us a call at 506-384-4838.

Written by: Acadia Veterinary Hospital