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Heat stroke in dogs

Heat stroke in dogs

It’s this time of year that we are concerned about our furry companions overheating.  Any dog is at risk of heat stroke but particularly brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds and dogs with a long or thick hair coat.  Brachycephalic dogs (for example pugs, bulldogs) have a reduced ability to lose body heat by panting due to the nose being very short.  Dogs with heavy coats need to be kept cool too – often it is advisable to have them clipped before the summer gets too hot.

How can you help your dog to stay cool on hot days?

Avoid exercise at the hottest times of the day – especially if you walk along tar seal. Remember, if it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot then it is too hot for your dog’s feet too! 

Allow plenty of access to cool, clean drinking water and good shade

Have a swimming area for them to cool off in – a plastic toddler pool works well

Never, under any circumstances, leave a dog in a car on a hot day – the temperature inside the car will go up much faster than the outside temperature

Make some doggy ice-blocks with hidden treats inside.

If your dog is showing signs of overheating (becomes distressed, can’t seem to stop panting, vomiting, seizures, collapse) then seek veterinary attention.

Treatment primarily involves cooling the dog down, and monitoring to make sure the temperature doesn’t drop too low in the process.  Supportive care and IV fluids are required, and anti-seizure medication is used if necessary.  Occasionally heat stroke can be fatal despite any effort to save them, so it is important to prevent this happening!

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