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A Complete Guide to Heatstroke in Dogs

Studies show that having a pet is very good for your mental health. It reduces blood pressure and depression and also boosts immunity. So, having a pet is great- However, it is also a big responsibility. Dogs, cats and other pets depend on you for care. In addition to giving food, shelter, pats, and cuddles, you need to also be aware of the physical and mental needs of your dog or cat. 

In this article, we will learn about one of the more common pet health emergencies that we see here at Riverview Vets, heatstroke. Heat stress is another term used for heatstroke. Because of Ireland’s temperate climate, some pet owners don’t even know that their dog is suffering from heat stress because they don’t know the signs of heat stress in dogs to look out for.

If it’s a hot summer where the temperature soars, have our emergency vet contact details on your phone +353 23 8841503 . You may not get time to Google ‘emergency vet near you’ when it is an emergency. 

Your dog may suffer from stress in mild weather as well. However, the number of heatstroke cases is far higher in summer. The reason for overheating is because pets don’t have sweat glands all over their bodies, only on their footpads. Therefore, they depend on external cooling when it gets really hot. And some pets have long thick hair that makes them even more susceptible to heatstroke.

It is the pet owner’s responsibility to provide a cool environment with proper ventilation. if its a hot sunny day, you should keep your dog in the shade and provide access to clean and fresh water.      


In heatstroke in dogs, the core body temperature is more than the normal temperature. This can cause heat injury to tissues. Your pet’s body naturally loses heat. When the body struggles to lose heat, this causes heatstroke. 

This happens when you keep your pet in an environment with poor ventilation and exposure to heat. You must avoid the following: 

  • Excessive exercise 
  • Inadequate drinking water 
  • No shade

Heatstroke can be life-threatening as well as it can cause damage to internal organs. Some internal organs may even stop working. Therefore, if you notice symptoms of heatstroke, call Riverview vets, the best emergency pet vets in Cork

Heatstroke Prevention 

You can easily prevent heatstroke by keeping your pet in a cool and well-ventilated place. Have a backup plan if you are taking your pet to a place where you cannot find a safe environment. Dogs, cats and other animals lose heat by panting. Good airflow is important for panting. If you are taking your pet outdoors, make sure that shade is available. Make sure that your dog can access fresh and clean water 24/7.

Even when there is a mild temperature outside, temperatures inside a car can rise quickly. Don’t lock your dog in an unventilated car. This can be life-threatening. 

When the weather is hot, avoid exercising. Avoid surfaces that reflect heat such as concrete, sand or asphalt areas. Usually, no shade is available on such surfaces.   

Signs and Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs  

If you notice the following signs and symptoms, contact one of the best emergency pet vets for diagnosis and treatment: 

  • Salivating, Drooling
  • Panting 
  • Restlessness, agitation 
  • Increased heart rate
  • Vomiting Diarrhea 
  • Bright red tongue
  • Pale or red gums 
  • Delirium, confusion and other signs of mental issues 
  • Breathing distress     
  • Seizures 
  • Lethargy, weakness
  • Staggering, dizziness 
  • Muscle tremors
  • Coma
  • Urination problems 
  • Collapsing  

There are some steps that you can take when you suspect symptoms of heatstroke. These steps can be life-saving. First of all, try to normalize the core body temperature. Take your pet to a cold, shaded and well-ventilated environment. 

Spray cool water on your dog’s skin. Maximize heat loss by applying fanning. Move your pet to a wet area for some time. You must know that using ice or ice-cold water can worsen heatstroke. Take your pet to one of the experienced emergency pet vets in your area

Even when your dog is showing signs of recovery, you should still take it seriously and call your local vet. 

Heatstroke Treatment

Emergency pet vets near you assess heat stroke severity to provide emergency care. They check body temperature and other signs and symptoms. Depending on the severity, tests and treatments for heatstroke in dogs include: 

  • Blood check 
  • Cooling enemas and other cooling treatments 
  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Putting on intravenous fluids
  • Medication  
  • Ongoing monitoring 

Some other predisposing factors can cause this problem. These factors include: 

  • Dehydration
  • Obesity
  • Excessive exercise
  • Brachycephalic anatomy 
  • Thick/long hair   
  • Collapsing trachea, laryngeal paralysis and other respiratory diseases/breathing difficulties  
  • Age extremes 
  • Neurological disease
  • Cardiovascular disease/Heart problems

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