Heatstroke - First Aid for Dogs

As the summer and hot weather is now upon us, pet owners should be alert to the danger of heatstroke in dogs.

Heatstroke is a state of hyperthermia, where the body is unable to lose heat faster than it is generated. It can cause major problems for the body’s tissues, internal organs and how they function.

Common causes of heatstroke are over-exercising the dog in hot weather, leaving the dog in a car (which is even dangerous on mild days!) and not providing enough shade, water or ventilation – this includes dogs who are kept mainly indoors.

The symptoms to look for include:

- Lots of panting
- Salivating or excessive drool
- Loss of coordination, confusion and dizziness
- Breathing difficulties
- Restlessness
- Bright red tongue and gums (although the gums can also be pale)
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Increased heart rate
- Tremors, shakes and weakness

If you suspect heatstroke, move the dog into a cool place in shade. If you have one available, use a fan to cool the air that surrounds them. You can place a wet towel over them, and slowly wet their ears, feet and fur. Once they are cooler, cold water can be poured onto their body. Do not use ice or very cold water to cool them as this could cause them to go into shock. Supply plenty of cold, not freezing, water to drink. Seek veterinary assistance if your dog does not rapidly recover or if you are concerned about your dog's health or wellbeing.

Dog-related AnatomyStuff resources

Flea Cycle in Dogs Chart / Poster - Laminated
Canine Skeletal and Musculature Anatomy Poster Collection
Canine CPR Manikin Casper
Understanding Canine Heartworm Chart / Poster - Laminated

Further reading / resources

Heatstroke in dogs
https://www.rspcapetinsurance.org.au/pet-care/health/heatstroke-hyperthermia
Dogs sweat
https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/do-dogs-sweat/

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