Heat stress in dogs

Heat stress is a state of acute hyperemia which results from imperfect heat regulatory mechanism in opposition to extreme environmental heat. Heat stress is a common problem in dog and it can even kill a dog if proper care is not taken in time.
Dogs do not produce sweat for regulation of body temperature. Dogs have sweat glands on the pads of their paws and on their noses. Panting which involves rapid shallow breathing that causes evaporation of fluid on the tongue, helps the dog to get rid of heat.

What are the factors responsible for heat stress?
The factors responsible for heat stress are

(a) Hot sunny days and also during humid days.
(b) Drinking less water during during hot days.
(c) Leaving the dog alone in vehicle without proper ventilation.
(d) Excessive exercise during hot humid days.

Which dog is more susceptible to heat stress?
Extremely fat or overweight dogs or dogs that have respiratory problems, short nosed breeds of dogs, such as boxers, bull dogs, pugs, pekingese and double coated breeds such as chow chows are more susceptible to heat stress. Young and old dogs are also more susceptible to heat stress because they have less tolerance to heat.

What are the signs and symptoms of heat stress?

Dog suffering from heat stress exhibit the following signs
(a) Dull and depressed look with a dry skin

(b) Sunken eyes, conjunctival congestion of eye
(c) Red mucous membranes in the mouth
(d) Panting and rapid breathing with protruded tongue
(e) Drooling of thick clear saliva

(f) Frothy discharge from nose and mouth
(g) Increased temperature of about 105°F or higher

(h) Rapid or fast heartbeat.
(i) Decreased mental awareness

(j) Convulsions and unconciousness in extreme cases

How to treat a dog suffering from heat stress?
A dog suffering from heat stress is treated in the following way
(a) Keep the dog in a well ventilated room with air conditioner or fan
(b) Keep the dog away from direct sunlight in a shady place
(c) Run cool water over the tongue and mouth of the dog
(d) The dog should given bath preferably with ice cold water
(e) Rub ice block over the skin of the dog

(f) Allow the dog to lick ice block
(g) Provide cold drinking water to the dog
If the dog is convulsing or collapsed spray their coat with cool water or cover them with a wet towel and don’t put them in a bath. The dog must be taken to a veterinary doctor as soon as possible. The following treatment are given by a vet
(a) Cold normal saline drip - If the dog is dehydrated
(b) Steroid (Dexamethasone) – To prevent shock
(c) Broad spectrum antibiotic – To prevent infection
(d) Rectal temperature is checked every 10 minute interval till it reaches 103°F

How to prevent heat stress in dog?

The following points should be taken to prevent heat stress
(a) Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening

(b) Don’t expose them directly in the sun during hot, humid days
(c) Keep the dog in well ventilated room with air conditioner or fan
(d) Don’t leave your dog alone in a ill ventilated vehicle

(e) Park vehicle in the shade and leave the windows open slightly
(f) Always carry fresh, cold water when you are outside with your dog
(g) During hot, humid days if your dog is outside there should be a shady place


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