Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Heat stroke is an unfortunately common problem that dogs can face in Fort Lauderdale, FL, especially in the summer months. In order to help keep your canine companion safe and cool, it is important to be able to identify the signs of heat stroke in your dog and know how to handle them. In order to best help your dog, it is also vital to know the different types of heat stroke that your dog could be affected by.

heat strokes in dogs in fort lauderdale, fl

Hyperthermia in Dogs

One of the potential conditions that could cause your dog’s overheating is known as hyperthermia — or a fever — which is the elevation of your dog’s body temperature above the normal 101.5° F. This type of heat stroke is only going to occur if your dog is fighting off a sickness of some kind.

Your dog could be under the weather if they are not eating or drinking normally, seem lethargic, have runny eyes or nose, or are experiencing diarrhea. These could all be warning signs that your dog has a cold or infection that their body is struggling to fight off, resulting in a fever.

If this is the case, taking your dog to the vet and getting them the medication, or treatment they need will help bring their temperature back down to normal.

Types of Heat Strokes in Dogs

It’s important to know the different types of heat strokes that dogs can face and what the symptoms are that you should look out for.

Exertional Heat Stroke

Within the broader category of ‘heat stroke’ there are two main kinds: one is caused by a hot or humid environment — classic heat stroke and the other is caused by strenuous levels of exercise — exertional heat stroke. Exertional heat stroke is going to be found in dogs working or playing in an environment they have not yet acclimated to, like a K-9 unit being taken overseas to the middle east.

This type of heat stroke could also affect your dog if you move to a new state or region with significantly hotter temperatures than your previous home. In order to help your dog acclimatize to the warmer weather in Fort Lauderdale, give them time to adjust to their new home. This adjustment period could take anywhere between 10 and 60 days before they are able to play or work outside without the risk of being overheated.

Classical Heat Stroke

Classical heat stroke is caused by your dog spending too much time in an environment where it is too hot for their body to properly dissipate the heat of their surroundings. Any body temperature over 105° in a dog is indicative of a heat stroke.

Some critical warning signs to look out for:

  • Panting
  • Dry nose
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Drooling
  • Unable to rise, quiet, or non-responsive
  • Warm to touch
  • Red mucous membrane in their mouth
  • Muscle tremors
  • Blood in mouth or stool
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Ataxia (staggering or stumbling)

Action Steps If You Notice Heat Stroke Symptoms

If your dog is displaying any of these signs or symptoms, it is paramount to get them care immediately. There are some actions you can take as the owner right there in the moment, such as: turning on the AC, walk or carry your dog to a cool and shaded area, give them as much cool water as they are able to drink or get a fan if you can find one. You could even place your dog in cool water or wrap them in a damp towel to help cool them off.

Additionally, you can sponge or hose down your dog with cool — not cold water — while focusing on their underside, head, armpit, feet and belly area. Placing a cotton pad of rubbing alcohol on the pads of your dog’s feet will help open up their pores allowing them to sweat more — the only sweat glands a dog has are the tiny ones on the bottom of their paws.

And finally, you can try placing ice around their anus and mouth. If you end up taking your dog into the vet to get looked at, they will most likely do some oxygen therapy and mild sedation to help your pet recover.

Heat Stroke Prevention for Dogs in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Dogs can’t sweat like us humans, so they have no other way to regulate their body temperature outside of panting. And sometimes, that’s just not enough to help them cool down effectively. The best way to help take care of your dog in a hot environment is to just be aware of the risks and take steps to manage them.

Know that your dog may be in more danger based on the thickness and density of their coat, or if they are a breed with a short nose. Their age and weight can also be a factor. Never leave your dog in a car or another poorly ventilated area on a hot day, don’t ask your dog to run or play on an exceptionally hot or humid day, and always be sure your pet has access to water.

Additionally, even if your dog is outside with plenty of air flow, the heat can still get to them. Ensure that their outdoor space has shaded areas for them to lay in, or if they have a doghouse of some kind that it is well ventilated.

In Case of an Emergency…

If your dog does have a heat stroke, and you are unable to get them to cool down, or you just want to make sure they’re OK, it’s time to take them to a vet. The vet will be able to let you know without a doubt that your dog’s temperature is no longer in the danger zone. They will also be able to check your dog over for and lasting issues from their heat stroke episode.

Long-Lasting Problems from Heat Strokes in Dogs

Heat stroke can have some serious, long-lasting medical issues; some of which you might not even find until years down the road. Heat stroke could result in:

  • Swelling of the brain
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • Abnormal clotting of blood
  • Kidney failure

Know the Signs of Heat Strokes in Dogs in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

While there is a wide range of warning signs and signals that can alert you if your animals is suffering from a heat stroke, the most sure fire way to keep your pet safe is to just keep an eye on their environment. Make sure they have plenty of air circulation, water, shade and that they won’t play too hard in the summer sun.

Central Broward Animal Hospital is committed to providing the highest quality care for pet owners in Fort Lauderdale, FL and the surrounding areas. If you think your dog is having a heat stroke or any other type of emergency, don’t hesitate to call us!