Heat Stroke

Posted by Kelly Kreider on

Dogs don't sweat the way we do which is good when they have a date but not so good when its 104° outside. Dogs actually only have sweat glands on their nose and toe beans so when they overheat they resort to panting but that unfortunately isn't always enough.

A dog's body temperature is usually around 100° - 102° and they begin to experience heat stroke over 103° and at 106° - 108° is irreversible organ damage and even death.

If you have one of these types of dogs, be EXTRA careful when you take them outside:

  • Senior dogs
  • Overweight dogs
  • Puppies
  • Dogs with existing health conditions
  • Pugs
  • Bulldogs
  • Chihuahuas 
  • Pekingese
  • Boston terriers
  • Boxers
  • Cavalier King Charles
  • Shih Tzus

It is important to remember that the longer they are unable to cool off, the worse the damage so it can be a good idea to keep a thermometer with you in severe temperatures.

Warning Signs of Heat Stroke:

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased salivation
  • Dry pale/gray gums
  • Glazed eyes
  • Hyperventilating 
  • Bright or dark red tongue or gums
  • Rapid or erratic pulse 
  • Weakness 
  • Confusion 
  • Not listening to comands
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Collapse

If your dog continues to over heat, their breath will slow or even stop. They may experience seizures, kidney failure, cardiac arrest, coma, and even death. That is why it is important to look for the signs of heat stroke.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Experiencing Heat Stroke:

  • Get them to shade or take them inside
  • Apply cool water to their stomach, thighs, and feet. Do Not put them in a tub or pool as this could cool them down too fast and lead to bloating and even cardiac arrest.
  • Air them out, don't cover them with a wet towel or blanket, this will prevent their fur from being able to regulate temperature 
  • Keep them moving, walk slowly to get the cooled blood circulating 
  • Give them small amounts of cool water and if they refuse, try bone broth
  • Take them to the vet! Once they have started to cool down, transport them to the vet, you don't want to continue trying to cool them down as you could risk hypothermia.

Even if they seem fine after an episode, they should still be seen by a vet! There may be underlying organ damage and the effects of heat stroke can last days.

The most common cause of death following heat stroke is Disseminated Intravascular Coagulopathy (DIC), when the blood coagulates throughout the body and can occur hours or days after the episode.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke:

  • Always be aware of the temperature!
  • Never take them to a place that doesn't have shade or water
  • Avoid long walks or hikes in high temperatures! Try walking them in the early morning instead.
  • Always make sure they have access to cool, clean water and a way to cool down.

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