Summer is heating up. While you’re enjoying the outdoors with your dog, be aware of the signs of heatstroke in dogs and how to prevent it. 

Heatstroke in dogs can occur outdoors, in an overly heated room, or inside a car. It can happen to any type of dog, but long haired and short nosed breeds can be more susceptible. The signs of heatstroke, according to the  American Kennel Club, include: 

  • Panting: If your dog is panting more than usual or for a long period of time, this should be a red flag for heatstroke. Drooling or red mucous membranes in the mouth can also be signs.
  • Having a rapid heart rate
  • Feeling warmer than usual or hot
  • Having a dry nose
  • Not responding to you, inability to stand up or staggering
  • Vomiting or bleeding from mouth or stools
  • Having a seizure
  • Experiencing muscle tremors 

Prevent heatstroke in dogs with these 10 recommendations:

1. Adapt your environment. If you’re hot, your dog is likely hot too. Go to a cooler location with good air circulation.

2. Adjust your habits and change things up on humid days. If you typically take your dog for a walk or play catch in the backyard every day, avoid exercise on excessively hot and humid days. Or change your schedule to early morning or late evening outdoor activities.

3. Always have water available. When you’re out and about, take along water and travel bowl. The Trail Buddy Bowl is a great option that you can clip on the leash or put in a backpack.

4. Provide good ventilation. Dogs pant in order to cool down, but they need good air circulation to do so. 

5. Avoid hot surfaces. Sand, asphalt, and even decks and other surfaces can be detrimental to a dog’s paws and increase risk of heatstroke. If you hang out in the backyard for most of the summer, like we do, consider an outdoor bed to keep your dog off hot surfaces.

6. Never leave a dog in a car unattended. Vehicles can turn into microwaves quickly, even with the windows open.

7. Make sure there is shade available at all times for dogs living outdoors. Also, ensure they have a cool and clean water source throughout the day.

8. Know how your dog's fur can help. Dogs have fur for thermoregulation - this helps keep them warm or cool depending on the temperature. 

9. Know your dog’s physical abilities. The heat may affect your dog more quickly than others. Just remember, young and old dogs can get heatstroke.

10. Put a cooling tank on your dog. While this doesn’t entirely prevent heatstroke in dogs, it can keep your dog cool for a period of time. Plus, it’s a great fashion statement!

    Heatstroke in dogs can be life threatening. If your dog is experiencing heatstroke, stop all activity and get your dog to a cool area with good circulation. After you have started cooling the dog, call or go to your veterinarian immediately for next steps.

    August 10, 2020 — Julie Slagter