Heat Stroke

Summer is a wonderful time of the year, the sunshine, and the warm temperatures, people wait all year to get out and enjoy those summer months. Many outdoor enthusiasts take their trusted companion on their adventures not realizing that the summer sun could pose risk to their 'best friend'. Unfortunately, dogs only sweat through their pads so most of their heat is released via panting. When humidity exceeds 80%, the ability to blow off heat is negated.

Let's start with hyperthermia, an elevation in body temperature that is above the accepted normal range, normal range being between 101.0°-102.5° F. With heat stroke, body temperatures start to increase higher than 103.5° F. The body cannot compensate when temperatures exceed 105.0° F and multi-organ dysfunction occurs.

Symptoms of heat stroke:
• Panting
• Excessive drooling
• Dehydration
• Body temp above 103.5°F
• Reddening of gums
• Small amounts of urine being produces
• Acute Renal failure
• Irregular heart beat
• Blood clotting disorders
• Petechiae (small pinpoint hemorrhage)
• Ataxia
• Vomiting blood/Bloody Diarrhea
• Seizures

These symptoms are caused by many different elements first being the environment, heat and humidity. We all know how hot the summer months can be for us, imagine what it feels like for our furry friends. Being enclosed in an unventilated room or vehicle can lead to extreme temperature rise in just a few minutes. In fact, external temperatures >80° F causes internal car temperature to exceed 130° in as little as 10 – 15 minutes. Cracking the windows or parking in the shade has little effect on this extreme temperature rise. In addition, crated/caged animals are at risk for heat stroke if air is not flowing through consistently. Exertional hyperthermia from exercise in hot weather can also cause heat stroke. With a routinely healthy animal environment, heat and humidity, is usually the leading factor of heatstroke.

If your animal’s health is compromised in some way, for example, an upper airway disease, they may not be able to pant which releases body heat and they may be at a higher risk of this danger. Animals with heart/ lung disease, obesity, and heavy coated dogs are also at greater risk. Knowing your animal’s limitations and health status is key in avoiding heat stroke. This can cause life threatening illness if not treated immediately.
Treatment: DO NOT IMMERSE THE PET IN ICE WATER OR COLD WATER! Wet animal down with room temperature water and place a fan on the animal. Then seek medical attention immediately.