Signs of heatstroke in dogs and how to prevent it

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The September heatwave could cause heatstroke in dogs as well as humans - but how can you tell?

With a September heatwave gracing the UK, many pet owners might be concerned about the health consequences of sun exposure on their four-legged friends. This summer has been reported as the hottest on record, which only emphasises the importance of keeping your pets safe in the sun.

Heatstroke is not just possible in humans but also in animals such as dogs. But how can you tell if your tail-wagger is becoming unwell due to sun exposure?

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A dog expert from Kennel Store has given advice on what to look out for if your pet is becoming unwell. They said: "Our dogs are valued members of our family and we often want to take them everywhere we go, but dogs enjoying the summer sun can lead to serious illness or potentially fatal consequences. 

“Heatstroke is a serious illness in which a dog begins to overheat and isn't able to effectively lower its temperature. A dog's normal body temperature is approximately 38.6°C, so if your dog begins to overheat they are in serious danger of becoming unwell. 

“Left without treatment, heat stroke can lead to your dog experiencing seizures, organ failure, or even death. Overheating during exercise, extended time out in hot weather, and being trapped in a hot car can all be potential triggers for heat stroke.

“All dogs are at risk of heat stroke, but flat-faced breeds in particular are at risk as they struggle to cool themselves down. This is due to some dogs struggling to pant effectively, leading to a much higher risk of sunstroke and heat exhaustion. It's also important to keep a close eye on overweight, young, giant-breeds (this is any dog that exceeds 45kg) and elderly dogs, as they are all also at higher risk.”

Signs of heatstroke in dogs

  • Panting

  • Drooling and/or foaming at the mouth

  • Bright red gums

  • Shaking

  • Weakness

  • Collapsing

  • Confusion

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea

  • Seizures

  • Death

What to do if you think your dog has heatstroke

  • Keep your dog calm and still

  • Move them indoors or in a shady area

  • Give them a drink of cold water

  • Make sure the area has cool air

  • Put them on a wet towel to help them cool down

  • Wet the top of their head, feet, ears and fur

  • When they show signs of cooling down, pour cool water over their body

  • Contact your vet and cool your dog on the way

When trying to treat your dog, it’s important to use cool water and not ice or extremely cold water. This is because ice water can cause shock to your dog.

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