Also known as hyperthermia, heat stroke is a dangerous condition that can affect dogs in much the same way as a human. While this is sometimes caused by exercise or seasonal changes, most cases involve prolonged exposure to high temperatures, especially during the summer months. However, those who work with a service dog to accomplish everyday tasks should take extra care to keep their companion healthy and hydrated. This simple guide will teach you how to prevent heat stroke and what to do if your dog exhibits signs of discomfort.

What are the Signs of Heat Stroke?

If you do not know how to recognize the symptoms of heat stroke, your dog could become ill or collapse into a coma. Within 20 minutes, heat stroke can become lethal, and some dogs are predisposed to complications due to age or obesity. As a matter of fact, many handlers are not aware that symptoms can persist well after retreating to the cool comfort of home. Whether you are headed to the beach or running errands, be on the lookout for warning signs, such as:

• Heavy panting or hyperventilation

• Gradual drying of the gums

• Vomiting or diarrhea

• Weakness and confusion

• Agitation or anxiety

• Seizures or difficulty breathing

• Frequent whining or loss of interest

What Treatments are Recommended for Dogs?

Now that you know how heat stroke affects your pet, it is important to educate yourself about treatment options so you can act quickly in an emergency. Furthermore, you must contact your vet immediately even if you are able to stabilize your companion. To provide immediate relief, we recommend that you follow these four basic steps.

  1. Spray or immerse in cool water to lower the core temperature of your dog. Do not use ice water to avoid constricting blood vessels.

  2. Set up a fan. You can even use a cooling pad to maximize comfort.

  3. Apply rubbing alcohol. The evaporating properties of this liquid are most effective when put on the armpits, foot pads and flanks.

  4. Monitor the temperature of your pet until it drops below 103 degrees. Do not cease treatment until you have confirmed an accurate reading.

Once you have performed these tasks, follow up with your veterinarian at the office to check for underlying side effects. Depending on the severity of your case, your service dog may need to be hospitalized for several days. During this time, intravenous fluids can be administered to revitalize your pet and secondary complications can be identified early on.

Reduce the Risk of Heat Stroke

Knowing how to handle heat stroke is a valuable skill for dog owners, but the key to a long healthy life is prevention. Fortunately, dogs are similar to humans when it comes to staying cool, so if you feel a bit overheated then your pooch is probably panting too. Try to limit your time in hot or humid areas and always keep plenty of water on hand for you and your dog. We also recommend that you refrain from using a muzzle to allow your dog to pant freely. If you plan to spend the day outside, find a shady spot nearby and take a break from the sun.

To further mitigate the risk of heat stroke, your pet can register as a service dog with our lifetime registration kits. We even provide ID cards, dog tags and vests so your dog can accompany you into air-conditioned airlines, restaurants and hotels. At USA Service Dogs, we provide resources on how to register a service dog so your canine will not have to endure the harsh temperatures and humidity that often causes heat stroke. Simply select one of our comprehensive kits and your order will be shipped directly to your home.