Heat Stroke and Prevention
Summer is just getting started here in Central Texas, and we have already seen the temperature reach 100+ degrees. With the extreme heat and high humidity, the risk of heat stroke for our furry friends increases dramatically. Heat stroke can strike very quickly, and if not treated immediately, will be fatal. Heat stroke is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Fortunately, heat stroke can be prevented.
What is Heat Stroke?
Heat stroke occurs when your dog is no longer able to regulate his normal body temperature, and it rises to dangerous temperatures of 106 degrees and above. Once these high temperatures are reached, your dog’s internal organs will begin to breakdown, and in many cases, the damage is irreversible.
Symptoms of heat stroke
- Heavy panting – rapid or labored breathing
- Bright or brick red mucous membranes – the gums just above the teeth are a good place to check color. The gums may also be dry to the touch.
- Weakness or collapse
- Elevated rectal temperature – seek immediate veterinary care if over 105 F.
- Thick saliva
- Bloody diarrhea
- Dark urine
- Bruising on skin
- Bleeding from mouth
- Seizures or coma
- Death – can occur within 20 minutes, or in a couple of days from delayed complications such as kidney failure.
If you suspect your dog may be having a heat stroke, quickly move him to a shady spot, air conditioned car, or indoors. Help cool him down by putting him in the front seat of the car and turning the air conditioner on high, wiping him down with wet towels, and/or direct a fan on him. Dot not completely soak, use ice, or very cold water as this may drop his temperature too much, and cause the blood vessels to constrict, trapping in the heat and preventing him from cooling himself.
If your dog is conscious, give him a small amount of tepid water. Do not allow him to drink too much.
Call your vet as soon as you get your dog started to cool down. If your dog is unconscious, or has a temperature of 105 or higher, take him to your veterinarian immediately.
Heatstroke is preventable!
If your pet is outside make sure that he is in an area that is well ventilated and has plenty of shade and fresh, clean drinking water. Many dogs enjoy a wading pool.
Make sure your dog doesn’t overdo it during exercise and play. Dogs frequently will not stop to rest until it’s too late. Change exercise/play time to early morning or late evening, when temps are cooler.
Never leave a dog, or cat, in a parked car with no air conditioning.
Provided by Northwest Pet Hospital