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The dry hot weather experienced in this part of the world especially in Nigeria produces high temperatures can put your dog in danger of heat strokes. Unfortunately many pet owners do not even realize that their dogs can have heat strokes when the weather is hot. Dogs don’t tolerate high temperatures as well as humans. Because they only have sweat glands in their feet and around their nose, they are less efficient at cooling themselves down.

Heat Stroke in dogs is a form of hyperthermia that occurs when heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body cannot accommodate excessive heat. Body temperatures above 105F are suggestive of heat stroke.  Dogs rely on panting and external cooling to lose heat. Their long thick hair coats can also predispose them to heat stroke.

Some types of dogs are more prone to heatstroke, like very old or young dogs, dogs with thick, heavy coats or dogs with very short flat faces like pugs and bulldog types. Dogs with certain diseases or on some types of medication are also more at risk.

Causes and Factors of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Several situations and factors can put your pet at risk of heat stroke, including:

  • Being confined in a car, even when the windows are open and the car is parked in the shade
  • Being confined without access to shade or water
  • Overexertion on a very hot and humid day ·
  • Obesity
  • Cardiac and/or respiratory disease
  • Age – old and very young animals are most at risk
  • Thick or heavy coats
  • Short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds, such as bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers, all of which use more energy panting and have smaller nasal passages.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Be aware of the symptoms and look out for the signs in your pet. These include:

  • Panting which increases as heatstroke progresses
  • Drooling, salivating
  • Agitation, restlessness
  • Very red or pale gums
  • Bright red tongue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Breathing distress
  • Vomiting Diarrhea (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

Treatment of Heat Strokes In Dogs

The immediate treatment plan for a hyperthermic dog is to treat the hyperthermia and then treat the associated complications. The severely hyperthermic patient must first undergo immediate body cooling to prevent further organ damage. One can use fans, towel-covered ice packs, and alcohol placed on paw pads to encourage total body cooling. 

Oxygen should be administered in animals with heat stroke, especially in dogs that have signs of upper airway obstruction or brain injury. Once cooling measures have begun and the airway is determined to be functional, therapeutic goals include volume resuscitation with shock dose fluids. This is best accomplished by administering intravenous fluid therapy. 

First Aid

Know how to do Emergency First Aid at home if you suspect your pet has heatstroke. Initial emergency treatment at home should aim to normalise body temperature.

  • Remove your pet from the hot environment immediately.
  • Apply or spray tepid/cool water onto the animal’s fur and skin. Then apply a fan/fanning to maximize heat loss.
  • Wetting down the area around your pet can also help.
  • Don’t use ice-cold water or ice as this may worsen the problem.
  • Then take your pet to the nearest Veterinarian immediately.

How to Prevent Heat Strokes in Dogs

  • Never leave your dog inside a parked car. Even for just a minute. Even with the windows cracked. Every year, hundreds of dogs left inside parked cars suffer heatstroke and die. Remember, your dog is more sensitive to heat than you are!
  • Make sure your dog doesn’t stay outside too long. If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, make sure they have plenty of water and cool, shady areas to rest in, and bring them indoors during peak temperature hours.
  • Avoid walking your dog during peak temperature hours. If possible, walk your dog in the morning or evening to avoid the hottest hours of the day. Bring water with you on long walks and take breaks in shaded areas if needed. Also, consider taking shorter walks and avoiding steep hills or other areas that require more strenuous exercise.
  • Keep your house cool. Many people turn off the AC when they leave the house to save money, but just like a parked car, your house’s interior temperature can rise rapidly on a hot day. If you have to leave your dog at home, keep the AC on (even at a conservative 75 degrees) or set up multiple electric fans to keep certain areas cool.


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