Heatstroke in service dogs and emotional support dogs

Heatstroke in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

March 2021 Dogs, Health

Owning a dog can be one of the best experiences of your life. Your furry friend can bring you joy, happiness, and many health benefits. You can enjoy this experience more as long as you fulfill your responsibilities as a dog owner well. Your dog solely relies on you for shelter, food, health care, and affection. So, a little negligence from your side can harm them in many ways. It only seems fair to treat your pup with respect and ensure that all these needs are consistently met.

Summer is one of the favorite seasons for service dogs as they get a chance to enjoy playing their outdoors much more often. However, during the summer months, the problem is always heat; it can be harsh on your pet. If their body's ability to produce heat exceeds their body's heat dissipation (cooling functions) ability they can have a severe heatstroke.

What is Heatstroke?

Heatstroke, also known as heat stress, is a kind of hyperthermia (high body temperature condition) in which a dog's body gets overheated and fails to maintain a healthy temperature by cooling down. Heatstroke requires immediate medical attention and if medical aid is not given on time, internal organs such as the brain, lungs, kidneys can become damaged and the service dog may lose its life.

Every year, during this season, many dogs visit their vet after becoming a victim of this condition. There are certain factors that cause heatstroke and if you are aware of them then chances are you can prevent it from happening altogether. Below we have mentioned the causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of heatstroke so that you can be more knowledgeable when it comes to your service dog's health.

What can Cause Heatstroke in Dogs?

Several factors can lead to heatstroke in dogs, these factors are listed below:

  • Hot and humid weather is the leading cause of heatstroke.
  • Age, young, or old service dogs are more prone to it.
  • Insufficient supply of clean and fresh water.
  • No shelter or shade from the sun's heat.
  • Excessive exercise in the heat.
  • Obesity, respiratory disorder, heart disorder, or brain problems.
  • Thick and long furs.
  • Short-snouted dogs.
  • Being restricted in a car in hot weather even if windows are opened.

What are the Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs?

Symptoms of heartstroke in ESA dogs

Symptoms of heatstroke may vary depending on the severity of the condition. To save your service dog from any lasting damage, look out for any of the heatstroke symptoms or signs in them. If you find any of the following symptoms in your service dog immediately take action and take him to a nearby vet as soon as possible. Look out for any of the symptoms below:

  • Excessive panting and drooling. As this is a mechanism, they use to lose heat.
  • Quick and fast breathing.
  • Increased heartbeat.
  • Bright red gums and tongue.
  • Seizures and muscle tremors.
  • Laziness, drowsiness, and exhaustion.
  • Mental fatigue.
  • Lack of coordination in movements.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Dehydration.

What Treatment Should You Give Your Dog during Heatstroke?

If you analyze your service dog's symptoms and suspect that they are having a heatstroke then provide them medical assistance immediately. Delaying necessary medical attention can make the situation get worse and even lead to fatalities. Therefore, give your pup emergency first aid when you first notice that they are experiencing symptoms, take your dog to your local veterinarian to have a proper checkup or treatment.

Basic First Aid

Try decreasing your service dog's body temperature as they cannot do this on their own in this condition. To help them cool off, try the following steps.

  • Take your dog away from the hot environment and bring them to a shaded cool place.
  • Give them cool water to drink.
  • Spray cool water onto your service dog's fur or put a wet towel on them and turn on a fan. This will produce a cooling effect.
  • Give your pup a bath in cool water. Do not put their face in the water as they are already having troubled breathing due to heat exhaustion. Try putting water on the back of their head to speed up the cooling process.
  • Do not use ice-cold water as this can make their condition even worse.

If their condition does not get better, take them to your local veterinarian while you keep giving them a cool water spray and a fan in the car.

Veterinary Treatment

Veterinarian treatment for dogs

A vet knows how to stabilize the raised body temperature of service dogs. So, immediate treatment will be given based on the severity of heatstroke. Vets will provide the following veterinary treatment:

  • First, they will put your service dog on a drip to insert cool fluid in his body.
  • Blood tests will be conducted to monitor damage to internal organs.
  • A blood transfusion will be done if there was any bleeding.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) protectants will be given if there was any damage to the gut involved.
  • Oxygen therapy can be given depending on the condition.
  • Further treatment and medication will be provided based on the results of the test.

How to Prevent Heatstroke?

Summer is a great time to create a strong bond with your furry friend by playing outdoor games. You can save your service dog from having a bad experience of heatstroke if you follow these simple guidelines.

  • Keep your dog in a cool and sheltered area with a proper ventilation system.
  • Bring your service dog in an air-conditioned environment if the weather is very hot and humid.
  • Make sure they always have access to cool drinking water.
  • Avoid going out in the sun and hot areas as much as you can. If you go, make sure your service dog has access to water and shade.
  • Do not keep your dog enclosed in a car even if it is under shade or the windows are open.
  • Do not make your service dog engage in excessive exercise on a hot day.
  • Be extra cautious if your dog has a respiratory disorder such as asthma.

Summer can be a good or a bad experience for you and your dog based on how much you take care of their changing needs according to the weather. So keep your furry buddy, service dog, and/or emotional support animal out of harm's way by avoiding heatstroke and enjoy the summer together!

Click Here To Register Your ESA Now!