Symptoms of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Heat Stroke

Effects of Heat Stroke – From the Dog’s Point of View

Dogs suffering from heat stroke will become restless and uncomfortable as their body temperature rises. They will pant, have trouble breathing and feel weak and lethargic. They may whimper, cry out or bark as their discomfort increases. Eventually, affected animals will be in so much distress that they will lie down, become listless and slip into a coma. Unfortunately, by this point, death is fairly imminent unless the dog receives immediate and aggressive medical attention.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke - What the Owner Sees

Most of the time, heat stroke happens to dogs on days that are exceptionally hot. Heat stroke is most common in very old dogs, and in very young puppies that are prone to over-exert themselves. Owners of dogs with heat stroke may recognize one or more of the following signs of this dangerous condition:

  • Restlessness or agitation for no apparent reason
  • Whining, barking or vocalizing for no apparent reason
  • Panting (excessive, prolonged or recurrent; may start, stop, then start again)
  • Stretching
  • Frothing/foaming at the mouth
  • Excessive drooling (hypersalivation)
  • Labored or difficult breathing (respiratory distress; dyspnea)
  • Elevated heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Dry, tacky gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (may be bloody)
  • Confusion; disorientation
  • Lack of coordination (ataxia)
  • Red gums and other mucus membranes (hyperemia)
  • Lethargy, listlessness, dullness
  • Weakness
  • Recumbency (dog lies down and is difficult to rouse)
  • Seeking of cool places
  • Seizures
  • Uncontrolled muscle tremors
  • Collapse
  • Coma
  • Death

Dogs at Increased Risk of Heat Stroke

Very young and very old dogs have a higher risk of developing heat stroke than do dogs in the prime of their lives. Brachycephalic breeds, obese animals, long-haired dogs and dogs that are black or dark in color are also predisposed to developing heat stroke. Dogs with hyperthyroidism, heart disease, lung disease or thick hair coats have an increased risk as well. Owners who notice that their dog is restless, uneasy, having breathing problems or otherwise is just not doing right should take it to a veterinary clinic immediately.

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