Home Health and Care Safety, Emergencies and First Aid Heat Stroke in Labradors

Heat Stroke in Labradors


The summer days are a torrid time for your pet. Heat strokes pose a serious threat to Labrador Retrievers and other working dogs that love to go outdoors. Though the risk is more for brachycephalic dog breeds, such as Pug, Boston Terrier, Boxer, and Bulldog, heat stroke in Labradors can also be life threatening. Knowing what to do to avoid or treat heat stroke can help you save your Lab’s life and keep him healthy and active.

Prevent Heat Stroke in Labradors

Factors Influencing Heat Stroke in Labradors

All dogs are prone to heat stroke. However, there are different factors that can affect a dog’s likeliness to suffer from the problem. These may include the following.

  • Thickness of your dog’s coat
  • Age of your Lab, as older ones are at an increased risk
  • Physical condition, as existing health problems make dehydration fast and a bigger setback for the dog
  • Fitness level decides if your dog is able to withstand heat or likely to suffer a stroke
  • Climate and environmental conditions at the place of your dog’s living, as exposure to heat is the foremost factor

Signs of Heat Stroke in Labradors

The normal body temperature of a dog remains between 101°F and 102°F. When your Labrador’s body temperature exceeds 104°F, your dog is more likely to experience a heat stroke.

Your pet faces an enhanced risk of having a heat stroke in the following situations.

  • While walking or hiking on a hot day or amid summer heat wave
  • Too much exercising that may cause dehydration putting your pet at an increased risk of being hit by heat stroke
  • When left outside during a hot day for a longer period of time, as it drenches the body fluid
  • If you leave your pet alone inside a hot car without proper air circulation
  • When your dog experience respiratory distress
  • If he has low fluid intake and lacks nutrients

You can notice several signs in your dog when he is about to suffer from a heat stroke. This may include more prominent signs, such as weakness and dehydration along with other secondary symptoms. Check if your dog needs water.

Your Labrador will show one or more of the following signs in he is about to experience or is already experiencing a heat stroke.

  • Bright red or darker tongue
  • Excessive panting
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to move
  • Seizures
  • Bloody stool

How To Deal with Heat Stroke in Labradors

If your Labrador is suffering from heat stroke, you must act fast. Pull your Lab’s tongue out as far as possible to open his airways and allow him to breathe cool air. You can give him cold water to drink to help lower his temperature. Make sure that the water is not too cold or is freezing as giving them may constrict the blood vessels – making it harder for him to cool down. Do not force your Labrador to drink if he is unconscious.

Rub an ice cube at the tip of the tongue for 10 seconds, remove it for 10 seconds, and repeat. You can also hose your Labrador or choose to soak him in a tub of cool water.

If you choose hose him and there is now available tub in the area, make sure to wet his body, especially the armpits and the belly. In critical cases, put ice packs under the neck and the pits and put wet towels all over the body.

If your Labrador is panting, chances are his airways are swelling. Giving him liquid Benadryl or Diphenhydramine should help tone down – if not get rid of – the swelling.

The dog may pant when his airways are swelling. This causes him to paint harder and you have to break this cycle. It is important that you know the proper dosage of this medicine for your Labrador. In case you do not know, call your vet.

If any of those methods don’t work, you may proceed to try a method called Cool Water Enema. It is a way to cool your Labrador from the inside. But, it is highly important to use water that is only a few degrees cooler than your Labrador’s body to avoid shock. Also, do not force the water faster than he can drink.


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