Lifestyle with Dog

How to Treat (and Possibly Save!) An Overheated Dog

panting

Dogs, in general, are intolerant of too much heat. Because of this, it is crucial that you’re aware of the signs of heat stress or heat stroke, and how to treat them if they occur. Knowing exactly what to do when your pooch gets overheated, and immediate action can save his life.

A Brief Overview

Heatstroke normally happens when a dog loses his innate ability to regulate his body temperature. Dogs do not sweat all over their bodies the way humans do. Their body temperature is chiefly regulated by respiration such as panting. If a pooch’s respiratory tract fails to clear heat quickly enough, heatstroke may take place.

If an animal experiences heatstroke, you may notice hyperventilation, excessive panting, dry gums that become pale, increased salivation, erratic or rapid pulse, confusion, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, and possibly rectal bleeding. If the dog continues overheating, his breathing efforts will become slow, or worse, absent. This in turn can lead to seizure or coma.

To prevent overheating during the hot summer months, make sure your pet has a shaded, breezy place to rest, away from direct sunlight. Always provide plenty of fresh, cool drinking water. And, don’t push your dog too hard to play or work – give him plenty of breaks throughout the day.

The following guidelines will help should your dog become overheated:

Treatment Guidelines

Because overheating can be life-threatening if not treated immediately, noticing the early signs of heat exhaustion will reduce the chances of canine heatstroke and death.

1. Watch your pooch for signs of overheating during the hot weather. Dogs having difficulty with hot temperatures exhibit a combination of the symptoms mentioned above (hyperventilation, excessive panting, dry gums that become pale, increased salivation, erratic or rapid pulse, confusion, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, and possibly rectal bleeding). Once you notice these signs, move your pet to a cooler area immediately, preferably with a fan. Dogs with heavy fur coats and short muzzles tend to manifest signs sooner than other breeds.

2. Using a rectal thermometer, take your pet’s temperature. A dog’s normal body temperature is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Moderate heating usually happens at around 103 to 106 degrees, while severe heating typically occurs beyond 106 degrees. Contact your vet or the nearest emergency center and then report your dog’s temperature along with the symptoms he is exhibiting.

3. Reduce your pooch’s temperature by putting cool wet towels over his neck, under his armpits, and between his hind legs. Wetting his ear flaps and paw pads using cool water is also advisable. If you are outdoors, a stream or pond can be used to help him cool down.

4. Give your dog fresh cool drinking water. Never force water into his mouth as he may likely suck it out into his lungs. If your pooch refuses to drink, try wetting his tongue with the water instead. Do not offer ice to a dog experiencing heatstroke. If eaten, ice can cool his core body temperature too quickly, shocking his system.

5. Finally, transport your overheated pooch to your vet. Call ahead so he can be alerted to prepare for your dog’s treatment. Your pet may have to receive oxygen, some fluids, and other treatments. With severe overheating, seizure and or cardiac arrest may occur.

 

46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Pingback: Summer Safety For Your Dog: How To Help Keep Them Cool | Beauty in Adversity

  2. Matthew

    May 26, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Do people not know about cooling coats? They are a great solution to keep your dog safe and cool during hot weather. I remember the first time I went to a midsummer dog show about 20 years ago, it was 38C, and all the dark-coloured and/or heavy-coated dogs were wandering around in damp coats looking perfectly happy.
    There are many brands, some more high-tech than others, but the basic idea is that you wrap your dog in damp fabric.
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  32. Val

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    I moved to Mohave Valley, Az in November 2012, so summer 2013 was the first “desert summer” I had experienced, other than living in Sacramento, Ca most of my life. When the first heat wave hit, it was 125-130 during the day and still over 100 at night.
    We had a swamp cooler, but not a lot of trees, so not real effective midday. By 1 or 2pm each day we led the dogs outside to the shady side of the house and hosed them down every 2 hours or so..we didn’t wait until they were frothing at the mouth.
    My dog was 13 then, so she also got a wet towel to either lay on top of or to cover her belly, while she napped, which was dipped in cool water and wrung out frequently.
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    It’s better to control the heat rather than combat the symptoms once they’re in trouble. Good advice.

    • Val

      May 22, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      And don’t forget, the street is HOT..dirt is cooler, but still hot, and grass is relief..let the dog tell you..mine always heads for soft dirt or grass when her feet get hot. (at her age, when she does that now I take her home)
      Remember, you have shoes on, they don’t.
      Some folks hike and walk with booties one their dogs that protect their feet..if they’ll wear them.

      • Val

        May 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm

        Ha ha. I live in the mountains near Flagstaff now.

  33. HK Jaye

    May 9, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    We don’t use rubbing alcohol for much any more (meaning kids with fevers or dogs with heat stroke)!!! It’s an old time fix that has bad consequences…similar to putting butter on burns. SLOW COOL DOWN, FLUIDS work best!

    • Val

      May 22, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      Better to dip their feet in cool water or provide a pool rather than rubbing alcohol

  34. Tom Abbott

    Jul 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    I take my 2 dogs to a dog park where they love to romp and play with other dogs. There is no shade. Other than the symptoms listed above, what should I watch out for ?

  35. nancy

    Jul 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Please do not take your dog on hot pavement it burns their feet. you have shoes on don’t forget

  36. oksunny

    Jul 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    You can also use cotton balls to rub rubbing alcohol on your dogs paws to cool them off

    • George Chase

      May 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      My dog prefers scotch!

    • Baby Rottie

      May 23, 2014 at 11:53 am

      Actually, rubbing alcohol is one of the worst things you can put on your dog’s feet! It dries out the pads and can lead to cracked and bleeding feet. Regular water is the best treatment. When it gets hot, we have a big plastic tub that gets filled with water from the hose. The dogs will play in it and drink it on their own.

      Never use topical ointments or creams without consulting a vet first! Dogs have different needs for their skin and coats than we do!

  37. Joy Rowe

    May 24, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    very good information and every dog owner should know the dangers of over heating!!

  38. Amanda

    May 24, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Last summer I went hiking, and another couple was on the trail with their English Bulldog. The dog obviously overheated, and several of us had to work together to quickly carry this dog over a mile to their car. I don’t know if the dog recovered, but this is one example of an owner not knowing their dog’s limits. You cannot take brachycephalic dogs outside for very long in the summer. Those dogs were not bred to be functional, and are heat strokes waiting to happen.

    In addition to the other points made in this article, I need to stress that you don’t try to cool your dog down too quickly. I once knew a French Bulldog that was taken home after slightly overheating and thrown in an ice bath. The sudden temperature change shocked the dogs system and it stroked out and died. Use fans and maybe lukewarm wet towels. Overheating is dangerous, but so is rapid cooling.

    • Steph

      Jul 17, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      Good advice. After you get a dog down to about 104ish you need to stop cooling them to prevent their temp from dropping too fast. Some people recommend using rubbing alcohol on their limbs to cool them down too, but that can potentially cause liver damage so most vets don’t advise it anymore.

      • Peggy Chase

        Jul 18, 2013 at 8:32 pm

        My dog BJ escaped his pen and got into a fight with another dog in our yard. I came home and found him in his pen unjable to get up and panting heavily. It was obvious that he had vomited. I didn’t know what to do. I turned on the hose and let it run on him for 15 minutes. I had to drag him into the house for the air conditioning. I had no vehicle at the time so I kept cool water nearby so he could drink. e stayed where I left him for 3 day’s but got better. I NEVER leave him outside anymore. He is an 8 year old Great pyranee,pit bull mix and the love of my life.

    • Baby Rottie

      May 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      I’ve seen that before too! Best thing to do is make sure water and shade are always plentiful! A big plastic tub or kiddie pool works great as a dog-pond. I never recommend metal because it can rust and get hot, plus, it’s more expensive. Shade is really easy to build if you don’t have a lot of trees. A dog-gazebo can be built out of 2×4’s and plywood. Just make sure it’s high enough that your dog can walk under it comfortably, and wide/long enough to give him plenty of shade to stretch out in. Hedges and shrubs are also great to build shaded areas with!

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