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How to Prevent, Detect, and Treat an Overheated Dog

How to Prevent, Detect, and Treat an Overheated Dog

How to Prevent, Detect, and Treat an Overheated Dog

Everyone loves summertime, especially your dog! Because summertime means you have more time to spend with them and play fun games with your dog outside. However, more time outside in the heat can sometimes lead to an overheated dog if you’re not careful. 

Texas summers can be fierce when it comes to extreme heat, so it’s important to know how to prevent, detect, and treat an overheated dog. Here’s how!

1. How to prevent an overheated dog

2. How to detect an overheated dog

3. How to treat an overheated dog

1. How to prevent an overheated dog

Your dog naturally maintains a higher internal baseline temperature than you do at about 101.5℉. Anything above 103℉ is considered to be cause for concern and a trip to the vet is advised. Anything above 106℉ is regarded as a severe emergency and could begin to cause organ failure and other symptoms of heatstroke leading to death, and a vet is absolutely necessary.

Dogs are especially susceptible to severe heat-related issues because they cannot regulate their internal temperatures easily through sweating as we do. Unlike humans, dogs have very few sweat glands concentrated in their paws. Their main way of temperature regulation is through panting, which might not be effective enough in cases of extreme heat.

Once your dog is overheated, things can escalate quickly and dangerously. The best thing you can do for your dog in extreme heat is to prevent overheating in the first place. There are several ways to consciously prevent an overheated dog. 

NEVER leave your dog in a car

Even if you only plan on running just a quick errand in a store, you might not realize that heat can rise in your car faster than the time it takes to make it through the self-checkout line at Target. Your car in the heat can act like an oven. In just ten minutes, heat can begin to rise in your car 10 to even 20 degrees (℉), even with the window cracked. That means if it’s 95℉ outside, the interior temperature of your car could quickly reach 105℉ or even 115℉! As we’ve already discussed, your dog is prone to overheating much faster than you. Therefore, this swift and steep rise in temperature can prove to be detrimental or even fatal for your overheated dog.

Provide shade for your dog

If your dog spends most of its time outside, make sure there are plenty of shady spots for your dog to rest. It can feel about 10℉ cooler in the shade than in direct sunlight, and that can sometimes mean all the difference between a happy pooch and a critically overheated dog. 

Keep your dog hydrated

Dehydration can cause its own problems and can also escalate symptoms leading to heat exhaustion or heat stroke in an overheated dog. To keep your dog from becoming dehydrated, make sure it always has plenty of water. As previously discussed, your dog mostly regulates its internal body temperature through panting. The hotter it is, the more your dog pants and loses water. Therefore be extra conscious of the amount of water you are supplying for your dog in extra hot weather. Likewise, if you are going for a walk or your dog is performing extra active duties outside, you need to make sure your dog has an ample supply of water. 

Fill up a kiddie pool for your dog

If your dog spends most of its time outside, consider filling up a kiddie pool in your backyard for your dog to splash around and cool off in.

Get your dog out of the heat!

If your dog lives outside and it is a season of extreme heat, you might need to bring your dog inside into the air conditioning. Even if it’s just for brief periods to cool off, some time inside with air conditioning or even a fan, especially in the hotter parts of the day, can prevent an overheated dog. Likewise, if you walk your dog regularly, take them out in the cooler parts of the day like the early morning and late evening to avoid the squelching daytime.

2. How to detect an overheated dog

When it’s extra hot outside, it is vitally important for you to keep an eye on your pup to make sure it’s staying healthy. Even if you’re taking preventative measures as discussed above, it’s still possible for your dog to overheat. Here are some ways to detect an overheated dog. 

Excessive panting, breathing, and drooling 

As previously mentioned, your dog pants and drools to help regulate its internal temperature, so some panting in the heat is expected. However, excessive panting and drooling or heavy breathing could be a sign your dog is working overtime to cool itself down and might be overheated

Dehydration 

Dehydration could be a sign you have an overheated dog. Signs of dehydration in your dog might include a dry nose, visible tiredness, excessive panting, and sunken eyes.

Rapid pulse 

Feel for your dog’s pulse. If their pulse seems more elevated than normal and they haven’t recently been active, you might have an overheated dog. It’s possible your dog’s body is pumping blood fast to try to increase oxygen intake to cool them off because of overheating. Watch this short video for how to check your dog’s pulse.

Weakness or lethargy 

Just like you get a little extra sleepy when it’s warm or you’ve spent time in the sun, if your dog is showing signs of weakness or grogginess or napping more, it’s possible your dog is overheated.

Dizziness, disorientation, and collapsing 

Becoming overheated can cause your dog to become disoriented. Watch your dog for any of these signs of dizziness and disorientation. If they are exhibiting these signs, you might have an overheated dog and it’s time to take a trip to the vet. 

  • Walking in circles
  • Walking shakily
  • Tripping
  • Vomiting
  • Head tilts to one side or the other
  • Eyes dart back and forth
  • Falling down
  • Unable to stand
  • Vomiting

Likewise, your dog might collapse. When a dog collapses it could be due to overheating or for a variety of other reasons, all of which should be assessed by a vet. 

Discolored gums

Check your dog’s gums. If they exhibit a dark or bright red or blue color, that could be a sign their body isn’t receiving enough oxygen due to heat exhaustion and you have an overheated dog. 

Take your dog’s temperature 

If you’re unsure whether or not your dog is overheating, take their temperature. As stated above, 101.5℉ is a standard internal temperature for your dog. Anything above 103℉ is considered to be cause for concern and a trip to the vet is advised, and anything above 106℉ is considered a severe emergency and a trip to the vet is absolutely necessary. Watch this short video for how to take a dog’s temperature. 

3. How to treat an overheated dog

Lastly, if you’ve taken measures to prevent an overheated dog but have detected some signs that they might have become overheated, it’s time to act quickly. Here are some things you can do to treat your overheated dog. 

HYDRATE! 

If your dog is overheated, they need water. Though it might seem counterintuitive, you need to give them lukewarm or cool water, never cold water or ice for an overheated dog. This is because giving them water that’s too cold might cause their internal system to go into shock. If your dog is too weak to drink, do not force them to, as improperly drinking might force water into their lungs which causes other problems. Instead, continually wet their tongues until they can gradually begin to drink on their own.

Provide shade for your overheated dog or go inside 

If you suspect your dog might be overheating, get them into some cool shade right away to help them begin to cool off. If you are close to your home, go ahead and just take them inside into the air conditioning. If you have a tile floor, that might provide extra relief, as will a fan blowing cool air on them.

Cool your overheated dog off with water

The most direct way to cool off your dog is to get them into some water. If you’re near a lake, pond, or pool, guide them gently into it. A kiddie pool in the shade is also a great option if you don’t live near a body of water. Alternatively, you could gently use a hose. Just as when hydrating your overheated dog, if you are using water to cool off your dog, it’s important to use only lukewarm or cool water, never cold. Otherwise, they could go into shock. Instead, cool your dog off gradually If you don’t have a body of water, a pool, or a hose close to you, begin applying extra water you might have to specific places on your dog such as their

  • Ears
  • Paws
  • Neck
  • Armpits
  • Between hind legs

Once your dog’s core temperature has reached below 103℉ you’re out of the danger zone.  

However, even if you’ve taken these measures to treat your overheated dog and they are showing signs of recovery, it’s always important to take your dog to the vet to check them out to make sure they didn’t incur any other damages while overheated

Like this content and want more? Read more about pets and wildlife here. And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter at Dock Line Magazine so you don’t miss out on getting more free content like this straight to your email!

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