Dogs running with stick

Heatstroke

Heatstroke and heat stress in dogs

During sweltering Australian summer days, dogs can easily suffer from heat stress and heatstroke - conditions that, without the right treatment, can prove very dangerous or even fatal.

Heat stress occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises significantly and it can’t cool itself down fast enough. At this stage, they usually:

  • pant persistently and quickly
  • look stressed and agitated.

Heatstroke occurs when the heat stress isn’t corrected fast enough and the dogs body temperature continues to rise, resulting in:

  • lethargy
  • collapsing and having a seizure
  • multiple organ failure, and eventually
  • death

That’s why it’s so important to prevent your dog from developing heatstroke in the first place.

How do dogs get heatstroke?

Unlike us, dogs don’t sweat. So they can only really reduce their body temperature by panting. That’s why breeds of dogs with shorter airways, like Pugs and British Bulldogs, develop heatstroke far more easily than many others.

How can I protect my dog from getting heatstroke?

Don’t leave your dog unattended in the car

We wouldn’t dare do it to children these days, and the same should go for your dog. Unfortunately, leaving dogs in parked cars is one of the major causes of heatstroke. Even with the windows slightly wound down, temperatures inside can rise quickly and beyond your dog’s ability to cope. On very hot days it happens even quicker.

Provide shade and water

When you’re at home, always ensure your parched pooch has easy access to plenty of water and adequate shade, especially if they are outdoor dogs. When temperatures reach 35⁰C +, keep your dog indoors and, if possible, in an air-conditioned room as they can still overheat with water and shade.

Make your dog ‘summer friendly’

Groom your dog to avoid a matted coat or have its fur clipped. Be extra careful with longhaired, overweight, young and older dogs. Learn more about grooming you dog.

Avoid midday exercise

Australia’s summer sun can be brutal in the middle of the day, so keep your walks and play sessions to early mornings and late afternoons when it is cooler.

How do I treat heat stress?

If your dog is getting overheated and suffering from early heat stress symptoms, such as:

  • panting fast,
  • panting a lot,
  • getting agitated,
  • and appearing stressed, then

you may be able to prevent heatstroke developing by:

  • giving them plenty of cool water,
  • placing them in front of a fan,
  • wetting their coat with a cool water shower
  • placing a cool wet towel over them

Does my dog have heatstroke?

If you are not sure whether your dog has heat sow the steps above and then take them to your vet immediately.

What if my dog has collapsed or has a seizure?

If your dog has developed heatstroke and has collapsed and / or is convulsing:

  • wet their coat with a cool water shower
  • take them immediately to the nearest veterinary emergency centre