Identifying and Treating Heat Stroke or Heat Stress in Dogs

What is Heat Stroke or Heat Stress?

Heat stroke may begin as a fever, or hyperthermia, which is the elevation of body temperature above normal ranges. For a dog, their normal body temperature is approximately 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above this can prove fatal if not addressed right away. If your dog’s body temperature is 105 degrees or above, this can indicate that they are having a heat stroke. Both heat stroke and heat stress can be severe and life-threatening.

During the summer months, the staff at Winding Road Kennel is sure to monitor pets in our care to ensure they are safe and healthy, especially our long-haired friends. These conditions occur more often in dogs with short, “smashed-in” faces like bulldogs, pugs, Pekingeses, Shih Tzus, and in dogs with thick, heavy coats. If anything seems out of the ordinary, our staff has training and knowledge on how to assist the dog and knows when to alert their vet.

While heat stroke or heat stress can happen to any pet, we are going to focus this month on dogs. Winding Road Kennel knows how to spot heat stroke and knows how severe it can be for our dogs. We urge dog owners to learn and know the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and how to properly treat their pet.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stress in Dogs

If you believe your dog is experiencing heat stress, there are some signs and symptoms to help you know for sure. Symptoms of heat stress include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive drinking
  • Bright red tongue and gums
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Wobbly gait or staggering
  • Body temperature above 103 degrees
  • Blood in stool

If the dog collapses or shows severe symptoms, they need immediate veterinary care.

If you notice any of these things, monitor your dog’s temperature and alert your veterinarian right away. They will be able to walk you through the treatment steps and advise on how to proceed.

How to Quickly Treat Heat Stress in Dogs

If your dog is showing the signs of heat stress, it may be your first instinct to give them an ice-cold drink of water, get them inside, and cool them down. However, this is not the best practice in treating heat stroke or heat stress in dogs. Follow these steps to help your dog in the event of heat stress:

  • Place the dog in a cool, not cold, environment.
  • Spray the entire dog with cool water (especially good for long-haired breeds).
  • Wrap the dog in cool, wet towels (especially good for short-haired breeds).
  • Encourage drinking cool water, but do not enforce.
  • Wipe paw pads with rubbing alcohol.
  • Do not induce shivering.
  • Do not use ice.

If you have your own pet-safe, rectal thermometer, be sure to monitor their temperature while following this procedure. If your dog’s temperature does not decrease, it is important to call the vet and take them to their office immediately.

Using ice or freezing water can cause the dog’s body temperature to plummet to dangerous levels. Only use cool water or damp towels; never icy cold water or wraps.

What Causes Heat Stroke or Heat Stress?

There are a few different causes of heat stroke that dogs may face without their owners even considering it. Some causes include, but are not limited to:

  • Obesity
  • No access to water
  • Too much exercise
  • Sitting in a hot car without ventilation
  • Hot temperatures/high humidity
  • Having long, thick fur or coat

Keep in mind that while you may enjoy a run on a hot day, it might be too much for your pup to handle. Remember to make sure your dog always has access to fresh water and is able to be inside or in a cool place when temperatures rise. Never leave your dog unattended in a hot car without proper air conditioning or letting the windows down. These few tips can help to save your dog from experiencing heat stress or heat stroke.

Count on Winding Road Kennel for Careful, Safe Boarding

Winding Road Kennel in Parkersburg, WV, cares for your dog like you do. Our staff is fully trained in the event that your dog has a heat stroke or heat stress. We notify dog owners right away, and we will seek out proper veterinary care.

At Winding Road Kennel, your dog’s safety is our priority while boarding. They are always given plenty of fresh water to drink, have a climate-controlled kennel to stay in, and our staff does not over-exercise pets. Trust that they are in good hands during their stay with us.

For more information on heat stroke or heat stress, give Winding Road Kennel in Parkersburg, WV, a call at (304) 428-3518, or follow us on Facebook. In the event of an emergency, contact your preferred veterinarian.