Heat Stroke in Dogs and What to Watch For

Dogs can get heat stroke, especially if left in a parked car, or in a kennel without ventilation. We’re going to show you what to look for and what measures can be taken to prevent heat stroke. This is one of those topics we don’t enjoy writing about, but owners need to be reminded that heat stroke is deadly. We’re going to show you what to look for and how to help a dog with heat stroke.
It’s that time of year and we felt we should be reminding animal owners to never leave their pet in a car, not even for a few minutes. Within that time frame, your car will become an oven, and sadly, your pet may perish. So follow along and let’s chat about dog heat stroke, how to watch for it and how to prevent it.

Do Dogs Get Heat Stroke?

Simple answer, yes, dogs get heat stroke. It’s way too common and happens way too often. Too much time exposed to the dangerous combination of increased temperature and humidity can lead to a heat stroke. A mammal’s body (and that includes humans, too) can only tolerate temperatures up to about 107 degrees before cells start dying. The higher the temperature, the faster this occurs.

The longer the dogs temperature remains high, the less chance there is for recovery. Heat stroke can occur very quickly, given the right set of circumstances, and if too much time has elapsed, even your best efforts may not be enough to keep your dog alive.

It doesn’t seem that hot, can my dog still get heat stroke?

Any animal can fall victim to heat stroke, but hot weather is especially hard on puppies and older dogs, (they have a harder time regulating their body temperature), short-nosed breeds, (like pugs, pekes, boxers and bulldogs), overweight dogs, those with heart or lung problems, and dogs recently moved from a cooler climate. These risk factors increase if your dog doesn’t have enough water, if he’s in an enclosed space or is exposed too long to direct sunlight.

How to recognize if your dog is having heat stroke

Heat stroke causes dogs to pant rapidly and heavily, the body’s defense in an effort to lower the core temperature. Their eyes may be open abnormally wide, and they may appear to stare blankly, ignoring your commands. They may drool excessively and stagger weakly. The gums will appear pale and dry and eventually, if left untreated, the animal will collapse into unconsciousness.

What should I do if my dog is suffering from heat stroke?

If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke and you’re close to a vet or animal hospital, put him in the car, crank the air conditioning all the way up and get him there as soon as possible. They’re the ones best equipped to handle your dog’s recovery. If that’s not possible, you must try to reduce your dog’s temperature yourself. Get him to a shady area and either put him in a tub of cool (not cold) running water, or spray him with a hose. Be sure the water penetrates his coat and wets the skin beneath. Run it over his tongue and mouth, inside the legs and on his stomach. Remember that small dogs will cool down more quickly than larger breeds. Take your dog to a vet as soon as you can.

Is it against the law in Minnesota to leave your dog in the car?

It is against the law in Minnesota and is considered a misdemeanor an you could be fined. Below is the information about the law and the link to the statute:

A person may not leave a dog or a cat unattended in a standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the dog’s or cat’s health or safety.

Hopefully your dog will never suffer a life-threatening heat stroke. If he does, at least now you know the signs and symptoms to be aware of, and the measures you can take that will offer him the best chances for a full and total recovery. The biggest rule to follow is to never leave your dog in a car, regardless if hot, warm or cold.