Heatstroke In Dogs

It usually happens in situations where, after the fact you think, “Shoulda, coulda, woulda”. No one doubts you care about your Sheltie. You want him healthy and happy. But at some point you put him in a situation without really thinking about it and the next thing you know you have a pup on death’s door.

Consider the information on just how deadly a hot car in the warm weather can be. This needs to be a priority in the summer.

Further, don’t think that a hot car is the only way to cause heatstroke in dogs. Hot, humid summer days without cool water and shade are deadly for any canine that isn’t acclimated to this type of weather.

It Doesn't Feel That Hot Out!

Understand it doesn’t have to be extremely hot outside in order for a car to turn into an oven. While we all want our pups with us as much as possible during our everyday activities, sometimes it is just safer to leave them home rather than risk a catastrophe.

What Does Heatstroke In Dogs Look Like?

  • Excessive panting
  • Lethargic
  • Rectal temperature over 103 degrees
  • Bright red tongue
  • Bright red or very pale gums
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Non-responsive
  • Death
Heatstroke in dogs

What To Do

Find ways to reduce the Sheltie’s temperature such as using cool, not cold water, (you don’t want to shock him with ice cold water) a fan or air conditioning. Depending on how much cool water you have access to, immerse the pup in a tub.

If he is capable of drinking, give him cold water. Never try to force fluids down a confused or lethargic animal. That would just be risking aspiration of the  fluids into the lungs, effectively drowning the dog.

Once the Sheltie’s temperature is down to 103 degrees, stop the cooling process. Too much of a good thing can be harmful.

dogs die in the car in summer

If you have help, apply cool compresses while someone drives the two of you to a vet. Additional means of cooling the Sheltie down, such as cool water enemas can be started at the vet’s.

vehicle interior temperature chart

Heatstrock can cause too high a temperature for too long which can result in organ failure and death. So when in doubt, seek medical assistance.

On the Flip Side

It has lately become the thing to do. People see an animal without a human in attendence and immediately decide they need rescuing, break a window and try to retrieve the dog. That can lead to dog bites, escaped dogs running into traffic and getting injured or killed and a variety of other problems, not to mention property damage for which you could be liable.

Some common sense needs to be used. Not every owner is an abusive one. Not every owner is negligent. That kind of attitude may feed a "holier than thou" emotional need for some people, but it doesn't help the dog.  

Start with the assumption the owner is a caring one and go from there. If the dog is active and barking, you are too close to the car and he is protecting his territory, NOT in medical distress.

Do call 911 or animal control if you are concerned. 

If you are an owner that takes your dog with you in the car, here is a handy poster that may keep your windows from being destroyed by overzealous do-gooders. I agree with everything on it except the barking part. If a dog has energy to bark non-stop, he is probably fine. 

Owner info for dogs in cars
  1. shelties
  2.  ›
  3. dog care advice
  4.  ›
  5. heatstroke in dogs