Heat Stroke in Dogs

Post date: Jun 17, 2015 8:02:38 PM

Education Station

Heat Stroke in Dogs

Susan Nelson, DVM

Spring is almost over and summer is just around the corner, bringing with it increased temperatures. We all look forward to this time of year as it means we can get out and play more with our four-legged friends; but the fun times can quickly turn deadly for some. As it starts to get hot, the risk of heat exhaustion or death from heat stroke increases. Just taking your dog for a walk at this time of year could put them at risk.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: excessive panting, thick or ropey saliva, weakness, lagging behind, dark red gums, staggering, seizures, unconsciousness, coma and death. As the symptoms progress, the high body temperature will shut down the internal organs, which is often fatal.

For minor symptoms of heat exhaustion, you can cool your dog off by wetting them down with water and letting it rest in the shade. Offer cool water to drink. You also can turn a fan on the dog or put them in an air-conditioned car. If your dog is experiencing more severe symptoms of heat exhaustion, wet him down with water and get him to a veterinarian immediately — as timely treatment is imperative in trying to reverse any damage the heat has done to the dog’s body. While driving to the veterinarian, directing your car’s air vents toward your dog while it is wet will also aid in the cooling process. Sadly, even with treatment, many dogs will still die from heat exhaustion as it does not take much time for the heat to do irreversible damage.

To avoid heat exhaustion, walk your dog during the coolest parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. Take water along on outings for both you and your dog, and be on the watch for early symptoms of distress. Lastly, NEVER leave your dog in your vehicle during warm weather, even with the windows cracked, as temperatures will quickly rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes and become a death trap for your furry friend.

Susan Nelson, DVM is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences in the Veterinary Health Center at Kansas State University. In 1985, Dr. Nelson received her BA in Biology from Hastings College in Hastings, NE. She then completed her DVM at Kansas State University in 1989. After receiving her DVM, Dr. Nelson spent her next 14 years as an associate veterinarian in a companion animal practice in Manhattan, KS. In 2003, Dr. Nelson joined the faculty at Kansas State University Veterinary Medical Teaching College. She is currently a clinical instructor for senior veterinary students in the hospital’s Pet Health Center.