The dangers of leaving your dog in your car – especially during particularly hot weather and over the summer months in general – are widely known. Heat stroke can kill a dog in under an hour, so do not take any chances. Never leave a dog in a locked car, even if it is just for a short time.
What is heat stroke in dogs?
If dogs are too hot and are unable to reduce and regulate their body temperature by panting, they will develop heatstroke.
If a dog is displaying any signs of heatstroke, move them to a cool, shaded area and take them to a vet as soon as possible, as they can quickly develop fatal internal organ failure.
Signs of heat stroke
Warning signs of heat stroke in dogs include:
- Is the dog panting heavily?
- Is the dog drooling excessively?
- Does the dog appear lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated?
- Is the dog vomiting?
- Has the dog collapsed?
Some types of dog are more prone to heatstroke, including:
- Very old or young dogs
- Dogs with thick, heavy coats
- Dogs with very short flat faces like pugs and bulldog types
Dogs with certain diseases or on some types of medication are also more at risk.
How to treat heatstroke in dogs
For the best chance of survival, dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature lowered, but this must be done gradually:
- Move the dog to a shaded/cool area
- Immediately douse the dog with cool – not cold – water, to avoid shock. If possible, you can also use wet towels or place them in the breeze of a fan
- Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water. Do not let them gulp it
- Continue to douse the dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle but never so much that they begin to shiver
- Once the dog is cool, take them to the nearest vet as a matter of urgency.
Please refer to the RSPCA’s website for advice on the dangers, plus tips on how to spot the early signs of heat stroke and first aid.