Heatstroke reminder

1st August 2017


Every year throughout the summer at Bollington Veterinary Centre we discuss heat stroke. Sadly, too many people seem to be unaware of how hot it can get inside a car when parked in the sun or shade. We thought we could use our newsletters to spread the warnings, and wondered if you could help.

Help us spread the message

Can you help us spread the word by talking about the problem and reminding your friends and family about the dangers? Maybe you could use Social Media? Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat – they will all help.

Share the RSPCA Poster

Every year the RSPCA campaigns to promote awareness of the problem. Here is a great poster that’s worth sharing.

3 Golden Rules

  1. Dogs die in hot cars - never leave a dog alone inside a car. The temperature inside a car can easily reach 50 degrees Celsius in minutes.
  2. Panting doesn’t work in an oven - the only way a dog can try to cool down is by panting, but it needs cool air to breath whilst doing this. If it’s left inside a hot room or car, the air temperature is so high that panting is ineffective.
  3. Call for help – if you see a dog in distress, dial 999 immediately.

Exercise Warning

All dogs need regular exercise, but we urge all owners to only walk their dogs in the early morning or late evening when it's cooler, especially when the weather is forecast to be warm.


Signs of heatstroke

  • Panting heavily – you will see the dog open-mouthed with the tongue out and panting fast. The tongue is often very red.
  • Salivating – as well as panting, the dog will often be drooling saliva. You may see drooling over the seats and windows.
  • Eyes wide – with all the distress, the eyes of the dog will often be wide open with an anxious appearance.
  • Twitching – as the heat starts to increase the dog may start to show some odd neurological signs. You may see the muscles around the eyes and face starting to make unusual twitching movements. In advanced cases, the dog may even start fitting.
  • Vomiting – extreme heat may trigger a vomiting reflex, so you may see signs that the dog has vomited food or thick frothy saliva.
  • Collapse – as the heat stroke becomes critical, the dog may become unresponsive and collapse.

Emergency Heatstroke help

For the best chance of survival, dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature lowered.

  • Shade – move the dog immediately out of the sun.
  • Cool – find somewhere cool.
  • Water – using tepid (not cold) water, start to shower the animal. You can douse or pour water from a bucket or bowl.
  • Wet towels – find some wet flannels and towels, and use them by applying regularly over the head, chest and belly.
  • Monitor– keep checking the animals breathing and alertness.
  • Get help – once you feel the animal is fit to travel, bring them to us at Bollington Veterinary Centre. Make sure you call us first to tell us you are on your way.

Which dogs are at risk?

All dogs can develop heat stroke in a hot car, but some animals are more at risk than others. For example those with;

  • Dark coat – if a dog has a dark black or brown coat, then they will absorb heat more easily and become hotter quicker.
  • Long thick coats – dogs with thick heavy hair will not be able to radiate heat so easily. Shaggy breeds of any type are at risk.
  • Short nosed breeds – any dog with a short, flattened face is less able to pant and breath easily if distressed - Boxers, Bulldogs and Pugs for example.
  • Heart condition – if a dog has an underlying cardiac complaint, they could be less able to cope with a distressing situation.

If a dog is displaying any signs of heatstroke, move them to a cool, shaded area and call us at Bollington Veterinary Centre immediately.

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Watch and share this RSPCA video which tells the story of how one dog owner got it so wrong