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Preventing Heatstroke in dogs

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Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your Dog in the Car

Most dog owners realise that they shouldn’t leave their dog in a car on a hot day. However, many may not understand how hot it can get inside a car on a comparatively mild day, even if the windows are left open. The signs of heat stroke are easy to see, but many don't think that it can happen to their animal.

If the ambient temperature outdoors is just 22 degrees, the temperature inside a car can rise to an intolerable 47 degrees. To make matters worse it can take less than an hour for this to happen. Such high temperatures are potentially lethal and sadly many dogs die in cars because well-meaning owners have not been aware of the dangers.

How Dogs Keep Cool

Dogs regulate their temperature by panting. In an enclosed space it is not possible for them to get access to enough fresh air to keep their body temperature at an acceptable level. This means that they become overheated in just a matter of minutes and could then succumb to dehydration and heatstroke. If they are not rescued quickly enough they will die.

Dogs at Greater Risk

Any dog which is obese, which has a thick coat or a brachycephalic muzzle (squashed face) will overheat more quickly and so is at even greater risk when left in a vehicle. Here the signs of heat stroke are very obvious.

How Dogs Succumb to Heatstroke

When temperatures rise to a dangerous level a dog will begin to pant heavily and will salivate. They will have a raised heart rate and will quickly become lethargic. If they do not receive attention they eventually faint or lapse into unconsciousness and then expire.

Not Even for a Minute

It isn’t safe to leave a dog in a car on a warm day, even if you only intend to be gone for a minute. Life throws up all sorts of obstacles and unexpected events so you never really know how long you will be gone. All it takes is for you to get trapped in a lift, to trip and hurt yourself or to get distracted by meeting a friend and you will be away from the car for far too long.

An Unexpected Danger

It isn’t unknown for dog owners to leave their pets in the car with the engine running and the air conditioning on so that their animals remain comfortable. Aside from the obvious fact that someone could steal the car, and the dogs, leaving the engine running could have unexpected consequences.

This month, shoppers in West Virginia, USA, were shocked to see what appeared to be a dog driving a car into the wall of a Walmart store! It transpired that the owner had left her dogs in the car with the engine running and the pooches had somehow managed to put the automatic gearbox into drive. The car had then started to move forward slowly with one of the dogs sitting in the driver’s seat. The dogs had also managed to wind down one of the windows. Fortunately neither dog was injured in the accident.




You never know if this Indian Summer will continue, however it is still important to ensure that you take the correct precautions to prevent your dog from suffering from heatstroke. This condition can be fatal, often happening if a dog is kept locked away in a house or a car without ventilation, shade or water. Furthermore it can also occur as a result of too much excitement or stress.

There are multiple factors that can intensify a dog's risk of developing heatstroke, these include:

  • Too much humidity.
  • If your dog is very overweight.
  • Enclosed space.
  • If your dog has been involved in Intensive exercise.
  • If you have a senior dog.
  • Too little water.
  • Boxers and pugs are at a specific risk.
  • If your dog suffers from Respiratory disease.


All it really takes to prevent this dangerous problem is thoroughness and common sense. It is important to never leave a dog unattended in a car or secured out in direct sunlight.

Signs of Heat Stroke In Dogs

  • Very heavy salivating.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Vomiting
  • Acute panting.
  • If their body temperature reaches (40.5º C or higher)


If you feel that your dog may be suffering from heatstroke, the contact your vet as a mater of urgency.


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