Any dog is at risk from dehydration and heatstroke; especially if they are ill and refusing to eat or drink. If you spot any changes in drinking or urination habits (including excessive behaviours) then please consult a veterinary surgeon immediately.
Remember, hot weather can leave animals prone to dehydration and heatstroke, so as the temperatures begin to creep up, it is good advice to keep a watchful eye over your dog.
Signs of dehydration
Sunken eyes, dry gums, lack of energy and loss of skin elasticity.
To check that your dog is well hydrated, gently pinch a small amount of skin on his back. If healthy, the skin should return to normal immediately whereas, in a dehydrated dog, the skin will change back slowly, if at all.
Dehydration can be very serious indeed and potentially fatal. Speak to your veterinary surgeon as a matter of urgency if you spot any of these warning signs or have any concerns. Do not wait until the next day, complications can be life-threatening.
Signs of heatstroke
Weakness or lethargy, rapid panting, bright red tongue or gums, thick saliva, and vomiting or diarrhoea (may include blood).
Heatstroke can be very serious indeed and potentially fatal. Speak to your veterinary surgeon as a matter of urgency if you spot any of these warning signs or have any concerns. Do not wait until the next day, complications can be life-threatening.
How to prevent dehydration and heatstroke
- Ensure that your dog has access to a constant supply of clean, fresh water.
- Make sure you regularly change the water and clean the bowl to avoid a build-up of harmful bacteria.
- When travelling or out for walks, make sure you take a plentiful supply of water and avoid exercising in hot weather.
- Access to a sheltered but well-ventilated area.
- It is vitally important that you never leave a dog in a hot car, shed, greenhouse, small kennel, caravan or conservatory. Leaving the windows open is NOT the answer, nor is parking in the shade, nor is leaving on the air con. Access to water DOES NOT prevent heatstroke. On a sunny day, with the temperature outside at 24oC, the temperature inside will reach 34oC within 10 minutes, 43oC within 30 minutes, and 49oC after an hour. Complications of heat stroke can show up a few days or even weeks later as damaged organs start to expire. An increase in body temperature of just two or three degrees can be fatal to a dog, their average internal temperature is 37.5oC to 39o Heat damage can occur when the body temperature reaches 40oC, with severe damage to internal organs, blood and the brain, leading to death. What should you do if you see a distressed dog inside a locked car, or similar, on a sweltering day? The advice is simple, call 999. Please refer to the RSPCA’s Guidance Notes on the subject.
What to do if you suspect a dog is suffering from heatstroke? Please see attached RSPCA Guidance Notes.