How to know if your dog has heat stroke

  • It is important to know the symptoms of heat stroke in dogs.
  • Some dogs are more susceptible.
  • Moisture makes it feel warmer for dogs and humans.

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The summer heat can be dangerous for dogs in the same way that it is for people.

Dog deaths in the summer are often associated with hot cars, but even playing outside or being in a space without air conditioning can cause problems.

With temperatures already starting to rise in some places and warmer than average weather expected across much of the lower 48 states this summer, here’s what to know about dogs and heat stroke.

It doesn’t have to be very hot to be dangerous.

“It is important to remember that it is not only the ambient temperature, but also the humidity that can affect your pet,” says Humane Society veterinarian Barry Kellogg. “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat from their body. If the humidity is too high, they can’t cool down and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels, very quickly.”

Dogs don’t sweat like people.

Dogs (and cats) have sweat glands on their paw pads, but they don’t do much for cooling. A dog that is not overly stressed by the heat will cool off in other ways, such as panting normally, lying down in a cool place, or drinking cold water.

San Dimas, CA - March 23: Baby Australian Shepherd dog enjoys a cool swim in Puddingstone Reservoir at Frank G Bonelli Regional Park on a warm and sunny Wednesday March 23, 2022 in San Dimas, CA.  (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Baby Australian Shepherd dog enjoys a cool bath in Puddingstone Reservoir at Frank G Bonelli Regional Park on a warm and sunny Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in San Dimas, California.

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Some dogs are more susceptible than others.

Short-nosed breeds like French bulldogs are prone to respiratory problems which can worsen in hot or humid weather and make it difficult to cool down. Long-haired dogs can also overheat more easily than other types. Puppies and older dogs, as well as those who are overweight or otherwise physically fit, may also be more susceptible.

Medical conditions can make dogs more vulnerable.

Dogs with certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism or heart disease, are at higher risk of complications from heat, according to the American Kennel Club.

Lack of water is often a cause.

Dogs left outside without water can quickly become dehydrated and overheated. This is especially true if they are confined to a spot with no shade.

There are many symptoms of heat stroke in dogs.

The AKC says symptoms may include heavy panting, rapid breathing, drooling more than normal, dry mucous membranes, bright red gums and tongue, hot skin, and elevated heart rate. Dogs that are overheated can also become hyperactive or have balance problems.

Shock can set in.

Signs that a dog is in very serious danger include pale mucous membranes with white or blue gums, as well as a very rapid heart rate. A dog may hyperventilate, have muscle tremors, collapse, and go into a coma.

Dogs with signs of heat stroke may need immediate emergency care.

Check with your vet about next steps. General ways to bring down a dog’s temperature include cold water and using a fan.

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