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UK Heatwave: Signs of heatstroke in dogs to look out for

While many people across the UK have been basking in the sunshine and enjoying the heatwave, our dogs might be struggling in the heat.

Heat stroke is a serious problem for dogs in hot weather- and it can be fatal.

This comes after a French bulldog died last week from heat stroke and brain damage following a short walk in hot weather in Scotland.

Dave Leicester, who looks after a team of experienced video vets at Vets Now, said: “We’ve been inundated with calls about dogs suffering heat stroke during the recent hot spell.

“While dogs need regular exercise, their health and welfare is our greatest concern and during hot spells such as this, we would urge owners to walk their dogs in the early morning or late evening to avoid temperature extremes.”

However, if you haven’t witnessed heatstroke in dogs you might not know the signs and symptoms to look out for.

Here’s all you need to know about heatstroke in dogs- including the symptoms you should look for:

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke is a state of hyperthermia (elevated core body temperature above the normal range) resulting in heat injury to tissues. H

Heatstroke occurs when heat generation exceeds the body’s ability to lose heat.

Numerous factors can lead to heatstroke, including:

  • A humid environment
  • Inadequate shade
  • Lack of drinking water
  • Excessive exercise

Heatstroke warning signs

According to the RSPCA website, there are four key symptoms of heatstroke in dogs that you should look for

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessively drooling
  • The dog appears lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
  • Collapsed or vomiting
  • Agitation, restlessness
  • Very red or pale gums
  • Bright red tongue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Vomiting/ Diarrhoea (possibly with blood)
  • Signs of mental confusion, delirium
  • Dizziness, staggering
  • Lethargy, weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Collapsing and lying down
  • Little to no urine production
  • Coma

What to do if your dog has heatstroke

Dogs with heatstroke need to have their body temperature lowered gradually.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Move the dog to a shaded and cool area
  • Immediately pour cool (not cold to avoid shock) water over the dog. If possible, you can also use wet towels or place them in the breeze of a fan
  • Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water
  • Continue to pour cool water over the dog until their breathing starts to settle, but not too much that they start shivering.

Once the dog is cool, take them to the nearest vet.


How to prevent heatstroke developing in the first place

The best way to treat heatstroke is to prevent it in the first place.

Here are some tips on keeping pets cool and preventing heatstroke in the first place:

  • Never leave animals in cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans on a warm day, even if it’s just for a short while. When it’s 22°C outside, temperatures can quickly rise to 47°C (117°F) in these environments which can be deadly.
  • Give your dog plenty of access to shade
  • Keep your dog’s water bowl topped up
  • Help your pets cool down by putting ice cubes in their water bowl or by providing damp towels for them to lie on.
  • Avoid exercising animals in hot weather
  • Avoid hot sand, concrete, asphalt areas or any other areas where heat is reflected and there is no access to shade.

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