We’ve treated two dogs for heatstroke in the last 48 hours, one that was severely affected and had to be admitted overnight. Heatstroke can be fatal. Thankfully both our poorly patients have recovered well, but with the hot spell set to continue, we wanted to raise the alarm and share with you some tips for keeping your dog safe this bank holiday.
Is my dog at risk?
Heatstroke can affect any dog. It can take effect quickly and deterioration can be fast. Staffordshire Bull Terriers, short-nosed, flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds such as pugs and bulldogs are particularly susceptible, as well as dogs that have an underlying health condition, have thick coats, are overweight or are very young or very old. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, do contact us immediately as prompt action can make all the difference.
Some typical signs of heatstroke to look out for are excessive panting, excessive drooling, reddened gums, rapid heart beat, increased body temperature (over 39 degrees celsius), being unusually lethargic or ‘flat’, seizures or if your pet appears to have a drunken, wobbly gait.
Emergency first aid
- Repeatedly wring towels soaked in cool (not cold) water over your dog’s head and body
- Give your dog access to plenty of cool (not cold) water
- Do not wrap soaked towels around your dog as this insulates your dog and prevents evaporation
- Do not put your dog into a cold bath of water as this may send your dog into shock
- Call us for advice, as heatstroke is classed as an emergency
- Make sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times. Take a carry bottle with you on a dog walk so your dog can rehydrate en route. We actually sell the ones in the photo above in practice (you can see the grey lid of the accompanying water bottle in the photo- the water bottle screws back onto the hinged lid and then clips down into the water bowl. There’s also a clip so you can hang the water station off a belt or bag). Here are is our head vet Hamish’s springer using hers!
- Set up multiple water stations at home. You can also encourage dogs to drink by setting up a water fountain. Click here to see Hamish’s border terrier using his! Cats also love running water and it’s a great solution for encouraging their hydration. We stock water fountains in practice too.
- Never leave your dog in the car on a warm day, even with the windows open, or shut in a conservatory
- Walk dogs morning and evening in hot weather during the coolest part of the day
- Try to avoid prolonged excitement on walks (e.g. chasing rabbits; intensive ball chasing) as excessive exercise can lead to heatstroke
- Make sure your dog has access to cool and shade at all times
Have a fantastic bank holiday. And keep cool!