Heatstroke Prevention Tips for Dogs this Summer

For sure, everyone is doing everything they can to cool themselves down this summer season. Some people are going to beaches while others are making cool desserts at home. Whatever you do, you should never forget to drink enough water and turn on your air conditioner or electric fan if you are feeling hot. 

Chow under the Sun
Chow under the Sun | Photo from Unsplash

Cooling yourselves down is important to prevent heatstroke this summer. You can drink water or turn your place cooler once you or your family feel hot. The case is different for your dogs. Unlike you, your dog cannot tell directly if they’re feeling hot or if they are dehydrated. Instead, there are signals you can observe. 

Dogs can also experience heat exhaustion or heatstroke the same way as humans. And because dogs do not sweat, there are much more vulnerable to heat exhaustion. Here are some ways how you can prevent heatstroke for your dogs this summer. 

What is Heatstroke?

Heatstroke, also known as overheating or heat exhaustion is when your dog’s body temperature rises beyond normal levels. Heatstroke can cause serious conditions in dogs, mainly brain damage, organ failure, and death. The main cause of heat exhaustion in dogs is carelessness by the owner in placing them in hot environments. 

What Breeds are More Prone to Heatstroke?

Chow Chow One of the Most Prone Breeds to Heatstroke
Chow Chow One of the Most Prone Breeds to Heatstroke | Photo from Unsplash

Not all dogs are created similarly. There are some dog breeds that are more prone to heatstroke than others. If you own a chow, you should be more observant because they are 17 times more likely to suffer from heatstroke than other dogs. Bulldogs, French bulldogs, and pugs are also at risk because their noses are not built the same way as other dogs. 

Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs 

Excessive Panting 

The most obvious sign of heatstroke in dogs is excessive panting. Dogs cool down by panting because they have no sweat glands. Seeing them pant more than usual can indicate that they are feeling hotter. 

Dehydration 

Labrador Outdoors
Labrador Outdoors | Photo from Unsplash

Dehydration is also another notable sign of heatstroke in dogs. You can detect dehydration by a dry nose, tiredness, sunken eyes, and orange peel. Another indicator is in your dog’s gums. If your dog has gray, purple, or bluish gums, there is a chance that they are overheating or dehydrated. 

Drooling and Rapid Pulse 

You should also keep an eye on how your dog drools. A dog that suffers from heatstroke drools a lot or has stickier drools than usual. If you have a large dog breed, they tend to have slower pulses. If your big dog has a rapid pulse, it can indicate that they are suffering from heatstroke. 

Lightheadedness 

Lightheadedness of Dogs Experiencing Heatstroke
Lightheadedness of Dogs Experiencing Heatstroke | Photo from Unsplash

A dog who experiences heatstroke also has the tendency to have trouble walking straight. They might be lightheaded or bump into a furniture. Dehydration and heat exhaustion causes a dog to become dizzy. 

How to Treat Heat Exhaustion 

The best way to treat heat exhaustion before it’s too late is to take your dog to a cooler place, especially if they are breeds with a naturally thick coat like huskies and chow chows. The best place for your dog to stay this summer is indoors. If you can turn the AC unit or electric fan for them, the better. 

Wetting their paws, ears, and body can also help your dogs feel cooler. You can apply cool water to older dogs but for puppies, it is best if you use lukewarm water. Wetting your pups with cool water before putting them in front of a fan to dry off can be as dangerous as putting them in front of the scorching sunlight. 

How to Treat Heat Exhaustion among Dogs
How to Treat Heat Exhaustion among Dogs | Photo from Unsplash

As they cool down, you should offer them some water to drink. Water keeps their body cool internally and can help prevent dehydration. If you think that your dog is getting weaker, adding dextrose powder or sugar to the water can help restore their energy. 

Once you see the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion in dogs, call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Once they recover, they should be monitored for kidney damage, dehydration, and other complications that could affect them in the long term. 

How to Prevent Heatstroke in Dogs 

The best way to prevent heat stroke in dogs is to keep them in cool places that have a lot of shade and freshwater for them to drink. You can place bowls in different places around the home for accessible water. Adding ice cubes to the dog’s water is a great idea as well. 

If you have a kiddie pool at home, you can let your dogs bathe and swim there during the summer. Some dogs just love swimming naturally while others need to be taught how fun swimming is. But if they don’t like swimming, you should bathe your dog every week or at least wet their paws daily. 

How to Take Care of Your Dogs during Summer
How to Take Care of Your Dogs during Summer | Photo from Unsplash

If you like taking your dog on trips, you should never leave them inside your car when the air conditioning unit is off. This action can make your dogs overheat because your car traps the sun’s heat, and of course, leaving your dog in a parked car even if the windows are rolled down is just painfully cruel. 

One of the activities that you should do with your four-legged friend is to walk with them. When walking your dog, it is best to walk them early in the morning or late in the afternoon. You should never let your dog walk from 9 am to 4pm because this is when the sun is at its hottest. Walking them during these times can cause heatstroke and the ground is too hot for their paws. 

You might have the idea of cutting your dog’s fur to make them cooler. However, this is counterintuitive and will put them in a worse situation as their coats are made to protect them from heat. Huskies and other breeds have a double coat that insulates airflow. These dogs also have a natural shedding process. What you should do instead is brush your dog’s fur regularly. 

The summer can be challenging for your dogs. As fur parents, it is your job to take care of them as much as they take care of you when needed. Preventing heatstroke is as easy as providing shade, ventilation, and water. There should be no reason why your dog suffers from heat exhaustion. 

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