Hund im Schatten

Recognising and treating heat stroke in dogs

When the outside temperature is high and the summer heat is persistent, regular cooling down is the best thing - even for your pet! The nice weather invites you to long walks or trips to a lake with extensive sunbathing, but you should definitely take care of your four-legged darling! Too much sun can cause your dog to suffer from heat stroke.

We explain what you should be aware of in case of heat stroke and what you can do in an emergency.

Heat stroke in dogs: The symptoms

There are several signs that indicate heat stroke in your dog:

  • heavy, incessant panting
  • shallow breathing
  • tongue hanging out
  • reddening of the inside of the ears
  • restlessness
  • redness and swelling of gums and mucous membranes
  • disturbance of balance and consciousness
  • cramps
  • vomiting and diarrhoea
  • palpitations

If you notice symptoms of heat stroke in your dog, you should act fast!

How to treat heat stroke in your dog

Try to keep a cool head and take these measures while your dog is conscious:

  • Shade: First of all, bring your pet into the shade or into cool indoor areas.
  • Cooling: Cool your fur friend down slowly. You can do this by laying him on a wet cloth or covering his paws with it. Do not spread the cloth completely over him, as the heat could build up underneath. Also, do not use ice-cold water: the temperature difference is too great and puts too much strain on the circulation. Change the cloths about every 10 minutes.
  • Water: Give your dog small sips of water at a pleasant temperature. However, he must drink on his own. Never give water to an unconscious animal! If he does not accept it, at least moisten his mouth as much as possible.

Immediate measures in case of unconsciousness

If the heat stroke has progressed so far that your pet is unconscious, you should take the following measures:

  • Side position: Lie your dog on its side.
  • Clear the airway: Stretch your dog's head over and pull his tongue out of his mouth. If your dog has vomited due to heatstroke, clear his mouth of vomit so that he can breathe.
  • Cardiac massage: Cardiac massage is important if the dog is no longer breathing on its own.
  • Off to the vet! Wrap your dog in cool cloths and drive immediately to the vet or directly to a veterinary hospital if his condition is stable. Cool your four-legged friend as much as possible during the journey. The vet can treat him with medication and bring him back to full health.

Consequences of heatstroke in dogs: What can happen?

Heat stroke can have serious consequences for your pet:

  • Overheating leads to cardiovascular problems, which in the worst case can cause cardiac arrest.
  • If the body temperature rises above 41 degrees, there is a danger to life: the pressure in the head increases and swelling in the brain could occur.
  • The increased pressure in the head can lead to brain oedema and unconsciousness - in the worst case with fatal consequences.

Our tip: As a dog owner, you should know the symptoms of heatstroke precisely in order to be able to act as soon as possible and avert the danger!

Prevent heat stroke in dogs

Although all breeds of dog can get heat stroke, especially

  • brachycephalic breeds with short heads and muzzles (e.g. French Bulldogs or Chow Chows),
  • old dogs and
  • overweight four-legged friends are at risk.

Heat stroke occurs when the ambient temperature is high and affects your four-legged friend's entire body. The cause: dogs have only a few sweat glands on their paws and therefore regulate their body temperature mainly by panting. Panting serves the purpose of evaporation, as this is how they release water through the air they breathe. At high temperatures and high humidity, however, this heat release is impeded, the body heats up and there is a risk of heat exhaustion.

You can keep your pet's risk of heat stroke low with these 3 important rules:

  1. You should only go for walks in shady places such as a heavily overgrown forest and only in the early morning and late evening.
  2. If the temperature is high, cool your dog down regularly, e.g. with water, cooling mats or refreshing snacks.
  3. Never leave your dog alone in a parked car when it's hot! Even at 15 degrees, the car heats up so much in less than an hour that it can become a deadly trap.

Wichtig: Entdeckst du im Sommer einen in Not geratenen Hund, der zum Beispiel in einem parkenden Auto eingeschlossen ist, versuche schnellstmöglich, den Besitzer ausfindig zu machen. Ist dies nicht möglich, rufe die Polizei, die den Hund aus dem Auto befreien kann. Das Recht ist hier auf deiner Seite, denn tatsächlich handelt es sich gemäß des Tierschutzgesetzes (TierSchG) um Tierquälerei, die als Ordnungswidrigkeit gehandhabt wird und unter bestimmten Umständen zu Strafen führen kann!

Dog sunstroke

High temperatures in summer can have dangerous effects on your dog, not only in the form of heat stroke. Even in pleasant breezes, you should keep an eye on your pet because there is a risk of sunstroke:

  • this is caused by direct sunlight on a certain area of the body, e.g. on the head or neck.
  • there is a risk of overheating of the head or brain, which in the worst case can lead to a cerebral haemorrhage (caution, danger to life!)

Even then, cooling your dog down is the key!

Conclusion: Heat stroke can be life-threatening for your four-legged friend! In summer, you should always keep an eye on your dog. Don't spend too much time lazing around in the sun, go into the shade more often and cool your four-legged friend down in between. This way you can enjoy the warmest - and perhaps also the most beautiful - time of the year in a relaxed way!

Have you ever had to help a dog with heat stroke symptoms? How do you protect your furry friend from heat stroke? We are looking forward to hearing from you!

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