(We published this back in 2011, but with the coming very hot days at the end of the week, we thought it best to mention again…)
Death from heat stroke is common in dogs in hot weather, especially if it is humid as well. Every summer we see dogs that overdo it in the heat. When heat generation exceeds heat dissipation, body temperature goes up to dangerous levels.
Some animals are more likely to develop heatstroke than others. Working dogs who don’t know when to stop or who are not allowed to cool off in a trough or under a tree overheat rapidly on a hot day.
Flat-faced dogs with breathing difficulties, like pugs, boxers and Staffordshire bull terriers, cannot lose heat as quickly as they generate it in hot weather. No matter how much they pant, their temperature continues to go up.
Sometimes obese or overweight dogs over-reach their fitness levels and collapse in hot and humid weather.
Dogs or cats confined in poorly ventilated areas without water and shade on a hot day risk developing heatstroke, also.
Early signs of heat stroke are high body temperatures, often over 40 degrees centigrade, excessive panting and rapid heart rate. Many dogs vomit and develop diarrhoea, often with blood in it. They soon collapse, bleed and fit. The gums are dark and red but towards the end become pale and ashen.
Heat stroke is an emergency. Wet your dog to the skin to start getting the temperature down and phone your vet. Most dogs require treatment with a drip and drugs to prevent shock.
Prevent heat stroke by making sure your dog has plenty of water and shade at all times.
Avoid mustering or running on hot days. Early morning or late evening is safer for stock and dogs.
Flat-face and overweight dogs should never exercise in the heat of the day. Know your pets’ limits of fitness and retreat into the cool before they reach them and overheat.