Heat Stroke and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Heat Stroke and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

By: Heritage Cavaliers


With the summer season upon us, we all need to be very conscience of our Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and their ability to be prone to heat stroke.  Cavaliers do not tolerate high temperatures as well as we humans do and they are unable to efficiently cool themselves by panting and sweating (did you know they sweat through their footpads) when the air temperature is close to or exceeds their body temperature of 101 – 102.5.

While you may think that you would never have your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel out when the temperature is close to, or exceeds 100 degrees, there are other characteristics of this breed that you need to remember.  Those beautiful thick coats trap heat close to their bodies, and those furry slippered feet we all love so much prevent the foot pads from sweating.

The Cavaliers King Charles Spaniel, while not a brachycephalic breed, does have a short face that could make air exchange less effective than longer muzzled breeds. Additionally, a cavalier suffering from a heart or lung disease in most cases will already have compromised breathing abilities.

Other contributing factors we need to keep in mind include not walking our cavaliers on hot concrete/asphalt and the availability of fresh cool water.  A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that has suffered a heart stroke in the past is also at increased risk.

You might be thinking that you would never subject your cavalier to such inhumane conditions, but what about those dryers used when grooming? Dryers and blowers can heat the air enough to make heat stroke possible, especially if the cavalier has been muzzled or is left in a confined space with little air movement and turnover.

You have taken all the precautions but are concerned that your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel may be having a heat stroke, what are the signs and symptoms?

Look for heavy panting associated with difficulty breathing, thickening of saliva (sign of dehydration) vomiting and a rectal temperature greater than 103.  Take action quickly by moving your cavalier to a cooler environment, preferably one that is air-conditioned.  If you are unable to move the dog to a cooler environment you can immerse them in cool water, spray with a garden hose or apply cool packs to the groin area.  This should continue until the heavy panting has subsided.

Heat stroke is an emergency condition that requires immediate intervention and treatment. If left untreated, heat stroke may result in shock, seizures and may lead to coma and death. After suffering from a heat stroke you should take your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to a veterinarian as soon as possible.  Depending on the extent and degree of the heat stroke there could be potential injury to the internal organs.  These complications can occur hours or days later.

That’s helpful but we always drive what about those quick trips to the store?

Well, the Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study to measure the temperature rise inside a parked car on sunny days with highs ranging from 72 to 96 degrees F. Their results showed that a car’s interior can heat up by an average of 40 degrees F within an hour, regardless of ambient temperature.  Eighty percent of the temperature rise occurred within the first half-hour. Even on a relatively cool day, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly spike to life-threatening levels if the sun is out. Precautions such as cracking a window or running the air conditioner prior to parking the car were found to be inadequate.

Next time you are out and about with your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, think twice and be prepared.  Always have cool water available and never leave a cavalier in a parked car.



Categories News | Tags: | Posted on June 3, 2014

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  1. by Elaine Brooks

    On June 4, 2014

    I have had two Cavaliers. My current fur baby is a 13 year old Blenheim boy called Alfie. I find that clipping the coat (whilst leaving the ears and tail long) goes a long way to keeping them cool in the hot weather. OK he doesn’t look like a show Cavalier, but he is neat, clean and happy.

    He still enjoys gentle walks but I make sure that these take place in the early morning or late in the evening when it has cooled down.

  2. by Janet Villasenor

    On June 10, 2014

    Hi Elaine – great question. The most important thing is that your baby is comfortable and happy. There is no reason you can not clip your fur baby. We will be posting an article soon about this topic! ~janet

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