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How to avoid dog heatstroke

how to avoid dog heatstroke
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Preventing dog heatstroke is an essential consideration when temperatures rise. Like humans, our furry companions can also suffer in the heat but need a little extra help to keep cool in summer, as they're unable to cool down easily themselves.

With large, heavy coats and an inability to sweat through their skin, if you see your dog panting (opens in new tab)this is often the most common tell-tale sign that they're too warm and that you should take immediate steps to cool down a dog (opens in new tab) in hot weather. 

This can be as simple as ensuring there's plenty of water and shade available, through to fancier, trendy methods: swimming pools for dogs (opens in new tab) offers the opportunity to let your pooch cool themselves down whilst having fun, and you can also make them up a few DIY frozen dog treats if you want to truly lavish them. 

It is worth noting, however, that although panting is your canine's way of lowering their own body temperature, it only works to a point. If it's a particularly warm day or if your dog is really exerting themselves and unable to cool down, they are at risk of heat stroke, which can be serious, or even fatal. 

Find out the signs of dog heatstroke in this article, including how to prevent and what to do if your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion. 

What is heatstroke in dogs? 

Also commonly referred to as heat exhaustion or overheating, heat stroke in dogs occurs when their body temperature rises to more than 102.2 degrees. 

Dogs have very little sweat glands so struggle to regulate their temperature during periods of extreme heat. 

Their way of losing heat is through panting. However, if you have noticed that this becomes excessive, you need to look out for the following symptoms, which could indicate that something more sinister is going on:

  •  Difficulty breathing 
  •  Excessive drooling 
  •  Vomiting and/or diarrhea  
  •  Weakness and/or stumbling 
  •  A sudden collapse 
  •  Seizures  

How to prevent heatstroke

When temperatures reach above 80 degrees or it is incredibly humid, it’s important to consider whether your pooch is at risk of developing heat stroke. 

Top tips include:

  • Walking your dog during the cooler parts of the day, such as first thing in the morning or late in the evening
  • Don’t ever leave your dog in a parked vehicle. Even on days in which there isn’t any sunlight, heat can reach dangerous levels quite easily inside a closed car.
  • Whilst outside, ensure that your dog has access to shade and fresh, clean water. 

 What to do if your dog is suffering from heatstroke 

 If you notice that your dog may be suffering from heatstroke, you must act immediately before it’s too late.

Firstly, get them inside or to a shady spot where their temperature can begin to lower and offer them some cool (not cold) water to drink.

If this doesn’t appear to help, check your canine’s temperature and, if above the normal range of 100 to 102.2 degrees, soak towels in lukewarm water and place them over your dog’s body. 

However you choose to help your dog cool down, be sure to do it gradually. Any drastic changes in body temperature could affect their blood pressure in a dangerous way. 

Should your pooch's condition not improve after ten minutes of trying to cool them down, contact your veterinarian immediately. 

Chloe is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, who has more than ten years’ experience in creating animal-focussed content. From National Geographic to Animal Planet, Chloe’s passion for creating fact-filled features all about wildlife and the environment is evident. But it’s not just wild animals that Chloe’s fascinated by. Having written more than 75 articles for PetsRadar - and having her very own four-legged friend by her side - it’s no wonder that her love of dogs (and, of course, cats) has grown exponentially.  

Her website, www.chloemaywrites.com, and social media pages - @ChloeMayWrites on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter - showcase her knowledge through daily facts and trivia tidbits. For example, did you know that snails have teeth?!