Medical Monday #3: What do I do if my pet is suffering from heatstroke?

Welcome to Medical Monday #3!


Today I want to talk about something that pet parents may be actively dealing with….heatstroke.

As the temperatures here in Northern California are reaching over 100 degrees any minute, my mind is always concerned with how comfortable Rooney is at home, since we have no air conditioning. I am always sure to leave the blinds closed, shades drawn, circulating fan in the room, and fresh water for him, but despite our best efforts to keep ourselves and our pets cool in the summer, it is best to know what WHAT causes heatstroke AND what you can do if your pet is already over heated.

Many pet owners are unaware that dog’s body temperatures are already higher than ours. A normal body temperature for a dog ranges from 100-102.5 degrees fahrenheit. Therefore, a dog can overheat much faster than we can if left in poor environmental conditions.

PetMD sources the main causes of heat exhaustion as leaving a dog in a hot car or not providing them shade when left outdoors.

Dogs will attempt to cool their body temperature primarily through panting. When panting won’t allow their body to cool, their body temperature will start to rise, and can lead to hyperthermia or heat exhaustion (PetMD).

What can I do for my pet if I believe they are suffering from heatstroke?

According to PetMD, the first thing you should do is remove your dog from the hot environment IMMEDIATELY. If you pet is unconscious, make sure water does not get in their nose or mouth while following the below steps.

1. Put your dog in the bath tub.

2. Run cool, NOT COLD, shower water over your pet, covering the whole body especially the back of the head and neck.

3. Allow the water to fill up the bathtub, but keep their head elevated (nose and mouth out of the water) to prevent getting water in the lungs, which can cause aspiration pneumonia.

4. If you can’t get your dog in the bathtub, use a garden hose to cool the dog or place them in a shallow pool of cool water.

5. Apply a cold pack to the dog’s head to help lower his body temperature, packs of frozen vegetables works!

6. Massage the legs. Rubbing vigorously helps the dog’s circulation and reduces the risk of shock.

7. Let your dog drink as much cool or cold water as it wants. Adding a pinch of salt to the water will help the dog replace minerals it has lost through panting.

Lastly, SEEK VETERINARY ATTENTION, heatstroke can cause many unseen problems, such as swelling of the brain or kidney failure, so even if your dog’s temperature starts to decrease, be sure to have them looked at by your veterinarian. Make sure to keep your dog cool on the way to the veterinarian.

Are certain dogs predisposed to heatstroke?

Yes! Dog’s with thick fur, short noses, laryngeal paralysis, or obesity are predisposed to heatstroke. Additionally, dogs who enjoy work and playtime, should be monitored for signs of overheating on hot days.

Stay cool everyone!

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Has your pet ever suffered from heatstroke? What did you do?

 I have received some great feedback from readers about our new Medical Monday posts, and I encourage everyone to continue to leave comments and let me know what you think.


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19 Comment

  1. Reply
    July 7, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Just had to do this a week ago for Hobie. He got overheated while I was at work, and
    my significant other did not know that he had to watch him really carefully.
    I wish I had known about the bathtub idea. I got called home from work “come home
    immediately!” and thankfully it’s only a 4-minute drive. He had collapsed on the floor
    and was gasping/panting heavily.
    We put a fan in front of him and I sprayed him with a spray bottle (in the living room
    where he had collapsed). We also put wet, cool towels between his back legs/groin area,
    in his front “armpit” area, and around his neck. I kept wetting them and keeping them cool.
    We also sprayed water on his ears (outside of ears) and paw pads. It took a while to cool him
    down. I thought he was going to die that night. He fell into a deep, deep sleep. He woke up
    about 3 hours later and started walking about like nothing had even happened!! We were lucky
    that time. We have no a/c in our house, but we added a window unit to our bedroom and we make him go in there, and we fill the water bowls (5 of them, maybe excessive but oh well) with fresh, cool water every hour or so. It happened “that quickly”!! This is info every pet parent should know.
    Kathy recently posted…5 Do-It-Yourself Ways to Test Your Senior Pet’s Health StatusMy Profile

    1. Reply
      July 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Kathy, I am so sorry you had to experience that, it must have been so terrifying. Luckily, yoru baby Hobie survived and its sounds like you guys did an amazing job with treatment! Thank you for reading and for sharing your story, I hope you never have to go through that again.

  2. Reply
    Dogs N Pawz
    July 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    This information is so important! Thank you for sharing!
    Dogs N Pawz recently posted…Tuesday’s Tails: Adopt This Catahoula Leopard Hound MixMy Profile

  3. Reply
    July 7, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Your post is well timed for those living in the Northern Hemisphere where temperatures are rising. This is invaluable information that all pet owners need to know.
    An animal suffering from overheating can happen anywhere, just as it happened to Kathy’s dog who was at home when it happened. Luckily, the dog survived, but it must have been scary to see him like that.
    I will be re-blogging this. Anything to make people more aware.
    Barb recently posted…If It Fits, I SitsMy Profile

    1. Reply
      July 8, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      Barb, I am so glad you liked my post. This is a scary thing for pet owners, and I think that people sometimes don’t realize that there are things we can do as pet parents right away! Thank you so much for re-blogging!

  4. Reply
    Patrecia Upton
    July 7, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    I have 6 dogs and live in Bulgaria where temperatures can get very high,.
    for the welfare and comfort of my animals we remove all carpets in May and replace them in October.
    this means that they have cool tiled floor to lay on.

    Nevef yet had heat stroke problems but maybe that is just luck. But a good post
    just cannot understand why or how people leave dogs in the car…its fatal!

    1. Reply
      July 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Patrecia, I agree with you! I have never been able to understand people leaving pets in the car, especially after all that other pet parents will do for their pets, only to have others make silly decisions. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing what you do to help your pet stay cool!

  5. Reply
    Ann Staub
    July 8, 2014 at 12:20 am

    Great tips! I haven’t heard of the massage one before, but it makes sense.
    Ann Staub recently posted…Ways to Encourage Your Pet to Drink More WaterMy Profile

    1. Reply
      July 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Ann, I am with you, I never heard that before I read about it on PetMD, but I agree, it makes sense. Thanks for stopping by and thanks again for sharing!

  6. Reply
    July 8, 2014 at 4:50 am

    Thanks for posting this. We’re very careful with our little Havachon, but you just never know when something like this can happen if you’re out too long on a summer day. She’s small and slim, but she has a double coat that’s quite warm. It’s also good to know how we can help other dogs in case we see it in our travels.
    Daisy recently posted…Monday Mischief: Daisy’s New Cuddle BuddyMy Profile

    1. Reply
      July 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      You are so right, you just never know and knowledge it power! Thank you for stopping by and thank you for reading!

  7. Reply
    M. K. Clinton
    July 8, 2014 at 11:45 am

    The heat and humidity in Louisiana is a perfect combination for heat stroke. Many pets as well as humans fall victim each year. Thanks for the life-saving tips! ♥
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Caru Means To LoveMy Profile

    1. Reply
      July 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      No problem! Thank you for stopping by! The heat is only getting started so I hope everyone stays hydrated!

  8. Reply
    Christine & Riley
    July 8, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Great article! We haven’t had any heatstroke with our dogs, but have heard horror stories. I try to keep them as cool as possible or make wise choices when it comes to heading out into the world with them.
    Christine & Riley recently posted…Finding a Lost Dog on the 4th of JulyMy Profile

    1. Reply
      July 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      Christine, thank you! I am glad you haven’t had to experience this with your pups! Sometimes even the little guys can get hot, and I think some pet parents aren’t aware of that, but I am glad you are!

  9. Reply
    Mary from YourDesignerDog
    July 9, 2014 at 3:39 am

    This is some great advice for this time of year! Thankfully I have not had to deal with heatstroke with Sadie. I’ve certainly had it myself a time or two, but so far I’ve been able to keep Sadie cool and hydrated.
    Also I just nominated your blog for a Shine On Award. Stop by my blog to accept your award and grab the badge.
    Mary from YourDesignerDog recently posted…Shine On Award!My Profile

    1. Reply
      July 9, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Mary, thank you so much! I truly appreciate you reading my blog and this means so much to us. Thanks!

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