How To Detect and Treat Overheating In Dogs

Dog Health Recent Resources April 17, 2024
How To Detect and Treat Overheating In Dogs
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How To Detect and Treat Overheating In Dogs

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How To Detect and Treat Overheating In Dogs

In general, dogs cannot tolerate extreme heat. Because of this, it is important that you understand what it looks like if your pup is overheating, as well as what to do about it. 

Dogs do not perspire like humans, and their breathing, including panting, regulates their body temperature.  When your dog loses his natural ability to control his body temperature, it results in heatstroke.

Keep reading to learn more about the signs of overheating in dogs, how to handle it, and the best ways to prevent it.

Signs Your Dog is Overheating

Our canine companions are not as tolerant of the heat as we are. Dogs do not sweat excess body heat like humans do. Although dogs frequently pant to release heat, this may not always be sufficient to help them cool down. As a result, if not accustomed, your beloved dog may quickly become overheated.

Fortunately, it is simple to spot overheating symptoms in your dog. You might begin to observe signs like these if your dog is feeling uncomfortable in the heat:

  • Excessive Panting: One of the first signs of overheating in dogs is excessive panting. This is not just heavy breathing. Excessive panting is more like your pup just went on an intense run, but is only on a light walk. 
  • Excessive Drooling and Foaming at the Mouth: Some dogs drool more than others. Particularly in hot weather, excessive or unusual drooling should be taken seriously. The thicker, stickier saliva helps the dog more effectively release heat.
  • Fast and irregular heartbeat: A healthy dog has a slower heart rate in normal conditions. Hot dogs, on the other hand, dilate the blood vessels to dissipate heat. Your dog’s heart is pumping hot blood away from the vital organs to the extremities when it beats quickly.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea: Serious dehydration can result from excessive heat. As a result, the person experiences severe diarrhea and vomiting, which may also contain traces of blood.
  • Collapse: Your dog may pass out due to severe overheating, and there may be additional neurological distress symptoms like convulsions. It is an emergency at this point, so you should get your dog to the veterinarian.
  • Rapid Breathing: Your dog may suddenly stop panting excessively and start breathing quickly and loudly. This shows that they are attempting to breathe in oxygen to cool off and prevent overheating.
  • Lethargic Behavior: Lethargy in animals can result from excessive heat. Your dog may begin to nap more frequently or experience difficulty getting up and moving around.

What to do if Your Dog is Overheating

The best chance of survival for your dog, who is experiencing a heat stroke, is to gradually lower his body temperature.

What you should do is as follows:

  • The dog should be moved to a cool or shaded area.
  • Pour water over the dog right away, making sure it is cool (not cold to prevent shock). The most effective cooling method for dogs suffering from heat-related illnesses has been found to be tap water (15–16°C). Any water is preferable to none in a genuine emergency. 
  • Wet towels placed on the dog’s body can make things worse by trapping heat. Towels can be placed under the dog in minor situations, but never over it. In a true emergency, immersion in water or pouring water while moving the water is best.
  • Give your dog small amounts of cool water to drink.
  • Pour cool water on your dog repeatedly until their breathing begins to normalize, but not so much that they start to shiver.
  • Even though your pup may still have a very high temperature, if he is unconscious, he will stop panting. Therefore, aggressive cooling is needed immediately in this situation. 
  • Whenever your dog is being treated for heatstroke, try to keep water away from his head, as there is a chance he could inhale it and drown, especially if he is flat-faced or unconscious.

Take your dog immediately to the closest vet after he has cooled off. Some dog breeds, such as bulldog and pug varieties, very old or young dogs, dogs with thick, heavy coats, and dogs with extremely short, flat faces, are more susceptible to heatstroke. Additionally, dogs with particular illnesses or taking specific medications are more vulnerable. 

How to Prevent Overheating in Dogs

Dogs are particularly prone to serious heat-related problems because they cannot easily regulate their internal temperatures through sweating like humans. 

Dogs have a small number of sweat glands that are primarily located in their paws. Their primary method of controlling body temperature is panting, which may not be sufficient in extremely hot conditions.

When your dog becomes overheated, things can get dangerously out of control. Preventing overheating in the first place is the best thing you can do for your dog in extremely hot weather. There are several ways to prevent your dog from becoming too hot. 

Keep Your Dog Out of the Heat

You might need to bring your dog inside if they live outside and the weather is extremely hot. Overheating can be avoided if you allow your pup to spend some time indoors with air conditioning or even a fan, even if it is just for a few minutes to cool off. 

This may be necessary during the hottest times of the day. Also, if you walk your dog frequently, walk him during cooler hours of the day, such as early in the morning or late at night, to avoid the sweltering sun.

Get Your Dog a Pool

If your dog spends most of its time outside, consider getting him a doggie pool in your backyard for him to splash around and cool off in. These pools are made of tough, anti-scratch PVC material, have a non-slip bottom, and are easy to drain.

These pools are extremely durable and come in many different sizes, so you can pick one according to the size of your dog. Check out the Jasonwell Foldable Dog Pool which is available in several colors and seven sizes.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Dehydration can exacerbate symptoms that cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke in an overheated dog, in addition to causing its own problems. Make sure your dog has access to plenty of water at all times to prevent dehydration.

As was previously mentioned, your dog wears pants primarily to control its internal body temperature. Your dog loses water and pants more as the temperature rises.

Therefore, in particularly hot weather, pay extra attention to the amount of water you give your dog. In addition, if you are taking your dog for a walk or if he is outside, you should make sure he has access to plenty of water.

Offer Your Dog Cool Treats

You can give your pup some cold treats to keep him happy and cool. Here are some ideas to try to keep your pup from overheating:

  • Ice cubes: Most dogs love to chomp on ice cubes. 
  • Frozen Kongs: Stuff your dog’s Kong toy with soft food and toss it in the freezer to create a tasty, long-lasting treat. You can try melon, plain yogurt, banana, sweet potato, or wet dog food.
  • Dog-friendly ice cream: Because it has too much sugar and dairy, regular ice cream is harmful to pets, but pet-friendly “ice cream” can be a delicious cooling treat. You can buy it from a pet retailer, like Purina’s Frosty Paws Frozen Dog Treats, or you can make your own by mixing mashed banana with peanut butter and plain, unsweetened yogurt. Mix well, and freeze for a few hours before serving.
  • Frozen chunks of watermelon: Just make sure the rind and any seeds are taken out because they can cause choking. These have the added benefit, like ice cubes, of having a high water content, which is very helpful to keep your pet hydrated on a hot day.
  • Pupsicles: Make ice cube treats more fun by freezing chicken or beef broth in an ice cube tray to make pup “pupsicles.” Make sure the broth is low in salt, does not contain fat, and does not include onions or garlic, which are toxic to dogs. Fruit juice could be diluted to make fruity pops that are not overly sweet. Make sure the juice is free of artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which is harmful to dogs.

Final Thoughts

We all enjoy bringing our furry friends along on summer outings. Unfortunately, extreme heat can lead to overheating in your pup or even a heatstroke. Remember, your dogs have less capacity for cooling off due to the fact that they have fewer sweat glands. Overheating dogs can only control their body temperature by panting, which is incredibly ineffective in hot weather.

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Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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