Heatstroke in Dogs
Dogs can suffer fatal heatstroke within minutes. Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat through their skin and so they rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose to regulate their body temperature and keep cool. Imagine wearing a thick winter coat on a hot summer’s day and you’ll understand why dogs succumb to heatstroke so easily. Signs of heatstroke in dogs include collapse, excessive panting, and dribbling. If you suspect your pet is suffering from the condition, move them to a cool place, preferably with a draught, wet their coat with cool – not freezing – water, and contact your vet immediately. Once a dog shows signs of heatstroke the damage is often already done, which is why it’s so important to prevent it
Dogs in hot cars
Never leave a dog in a car, even for a moment. “Not long” is too long. A car can become an oven very quickly even when it doesn’t feel that warm. When it is 22°c outside – within an hour – the temperature in a car can reach an unbearable 47°c.
Can I smash a window to free a dog from a hot car? If you see a dog in distress inside a car, official advice is to dial 999 immediately and ask for the police. A dog in distress in a hot car is an emergency and the police will advise you what to do based on the situation. Depending on the severity of the situation, the police may attend and break into the car to gain access to the dog, or they may advise you to do this. Call the police and tell them what you intend to do and why. Take photos and/or videos of the dog in distress and the names and phone numbers of witnesses.
How to keep a dog cool and prevent heatstroke
- Make sure your dog has access to clean water at all times, ideally a large bowl filled to the brim. Carry water and a bowl with you on walks.
- On hot days, walk your dog during the cooler parts of the day, in the early morning and late evening
- Watch your pet for signs of over-heating, including heavy panting and loss of energy. If you recognise these signs when on a walk, stop, find a shady spot and give your dog water.
- Never leave your dog (or any pet) alone in a car, even with the windows open
- Be particularly careful with short-nosed dogs such as bull breeds, boxers, pugs, older dogs, and those that are overweight. These dogs can get heatstroke simply by running around.
- Hold your hand for 5-10 seconds on a paving stone or road etc. If you cannot keep your hand there then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws too. So walk in the cooler parts of the day.