Heatstroke in Dogs in River North: What to Keep an Eye Out For

As we face heatwaves across the country, many pet owners are rightfully concerned about keeping their dogs safe. The definition of a heatwave differs from region to region across the country, but it is generally achieved whenever temperatures in an area exceed what is usual for a designated period of days. This is obviously different between cities, (Arizona’s temperature will be much different than ours here in River North, Chicago) so keep tabs on your local temperatures and humidity to make sure that you’re protecting your pooch from the risk of heatstroke.

heatstroke in dogs in river north, chicago

A dog is officially in heatstroke when their temperature is 103 degrees, they are in danger of organ failure and death shortly after, when their temperature reaches 107 degrees.

Below, we’ll go over what to look out for and how to deal with your dog having a heat stroke in River North.

Signs Your Dog is Having a Heatstroke to Watch Out For

Excessive Panting

Dogs sweat through their tongues, nowhere else. If you notice your dog is panting more than usual: monitor them, get them to a cooler location with airflow and get them some cool water to drink. Do not force them to drink. Excessive panting is the first symptom of heatstroke as it is your dog trying to regulate its body temperature as fast as possible.

Excessive Drooling

This will happen because the dog is panting excessively. If you notice your dog drooling more than normal, this could be the second sign of heatstroke. Again: take your dog to a cool room with airflow, get them water, and monitor them.

Rapid Heartbeat

If you notice your dog is drooling and panting more than normal, rest your hand on their chest. If the heart is beating faster than it is normally, or perhaps irregularly, this is another sign that your dog is suffering from heatstroke.

Just like with humans, diarrhea is a sign of dehydration. If your dog has an accident in the house or you notice diarrhea in the yard or on the walk, your dog could be suffering from heatstroke already. Make sure they have plenty of access to cool water and of course a cool location with ventilation to rest in for a bit.

Pale Gums and Tongue

This is one of the beginning signs of heat stroke. It happens when oxygen is deprived of the blood because all the body’s energy and blood is going into cooling the body down, resulting in the gums becoming paler than normal. Think of it as the way cheeks or lips look when a human is about to faint. The gums and tongue are our dog’s cheeks, pay attention to them!

Dark Red Gums and Tongue

This means the heatstroke has progressed. Some describe the coloration to be more dramatic than a dark red: almost purple or blue. It is caused by the oxygenated blood rushing to the skin’s surface. It will happen after the gums and tongue are paler than normal.

This can range from watery to sometimes bloody. Yes, we know that dogs get into all sorts of things and can vomit for many reasons. Of course, if there is blood you should immediately call your vet regardless. If it is watery but in conjunction with any of these other symptoms, you should immediately begin treating your dog for heatstroke and call your vet.

Loss of Coordination and/or Collapsing

If your dog has heatstroke, they are experiencing a lack of oxygen, making them lose some of its coordination. Some people describe their animal as “acting drunk” because of the way the dog staggers. The physical exhaustion of the heatstroke will cause collapsing as it gets worse.

Seeming to Be Disoriented, Confused

This is another side-effect of the loss of oxygen. Your dog may seem confused mentally as well as physically. Because of the lack of oxygen, they are having a hard time focusing and getting a grasp on where they are and what is happening.

Loss of Consciousness

Your dog is exhausted, deprived of oxygen and overheating. Even though they are breathing and still panting excessively, and even though you can feel their heartbeat, when you try to wake them up, you will probably won’t be able to. This is heatstroke, call your vet immediately.

Notice These Symptoms? Here’s what to do:

  • Call your vet.
  • Take your dog’s temperature if you have a thermometer for them. Remember: 103 degrees is the beginning of the danger zone, 107 is danger of organ failure and death.
  • Take them to a cool place with airflow.
  • Help their body cool down:
    • You can soak a towel in cool water and put that on the dog.
    • Try soaking a washcloth in cool water and place it on the back of their head specifically.
    • Get them in the shower or the tub with room temperature or cool water. Do not submerge the head.
    • Do not add ice to water if you fill a tub for them, if you make the temperature change from too hot to cold too dramatic, you could put your dog into shock and create a new, very dangerous, issue.
  • Give them access to cool drinking water (do not force them to drink).
  • Massage your dog’s limbs to help recirculate blood.

You should call your vet if you notice any of the symptoms above. They may have you monitor your dog and tell you what you can do for it immediately rather than coming in, if you catch the symptoms early enough. Remember that heatstroke in dogs can lead to organ failure and death if you do not catch or address the symptoms.

A vet will monitor the dog’s vitals, give them fluids, replace minerals and ensure that all of their organs are fully functioning. Avoid this experience for your dog by being preventative.

Preventing a Heatstroke for Your Dog

  • Be aware of the temperatures outside.
  • Make sure that when your dog is outside, they have access to shade and plenty of airflow along with cool water.
  • Reduce strenuous exercise outside when it is hot outside.
  • Do not ever leave your dog in a car with the windows up.
  • If your dog is crated, make sure the crate has ventilation, even in the car.
  • Dogs with shorter noses are more prone to heat stroke, take a few moments today to familiarize yourself with your breed’s needs.

We all love our dogs and want them to be happy and healthy! By recognizing how to prevent heatstroke in your dog, how to recognize heatstroke if it happens, and what to do if you see it happening, you can do a significant job alone at keeping your dog safe.

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