Dogs eliminate heat through panting; however if the temperature of the environment is too hot and humid then panting becomes ineffective.
Normal body temperature is around 38.5C/101.4F. In cases of heat-stroke a dog's body temperature can rise in excess of 41.6C/107F. Increased muscular effort displayed during excessive panting can also cause a rise in body temperature.
Signs of heat-stroke:
- Panting excessively
- Anxious behaviour
- Very red gums turning blue in extreme circumstances
- Very rapid heart rate
- In cases of severe heat-stroke - collapse, convulsions, shock
What to do if your dog is suffering with heat-stroke:
- Seek veterinary attention immediately as it can be difficult to be sure how serious the situation is and urgent treatment may be needed.
- Remove the dog from the hot environment
- Reduce body temperature immediately
- Immerse the dog in tepid water, cooling gradually, using either a shower spray or similar. Then douse the dog in cool water, particularly the head and neck - avoid using ice-cold water; or cover your dog with wet sheets. Use a fan to increase air flow over the dog as this aids cooling.
- Allow the dog to drink as much water as he wants in small quantities at a time (if possible add a pinch of salt to the water)
- Continue to douse the dog in cold water until his breathing starts to settle
- Seek veterinary attention as soon as is safe to do so
- If using a fan to cool your dog be careful of electric wires.
- Do not throw cold water over your dog!
If a dog's temperature is not reduced immediately, heat-stroke can be fatal.