Heat Stroke

Heat stroke in dogs and cats is an emergency and requires your attention immediately. Pets are unable to sweat like humans do, and since they cannot, they do not tolerate heat very well. While animals can exchange some warm air for cool by panting, when air temperature gets close to or over their body temperature, panting no longer helps.

Heat Stroke

How it Affects your pet

Heat stroke occurs quite rapidly in pets and typically begins with heavy panting and difficulty breathing. Soon after, the tongue and mucous membranes will become fiery red. If left to progress, the animal will begin vomiting and may experience bloody diarrhea. Finally, untreated heat stroke can result in seizures, shock, coma, kidney failure, cardiac arrest and death. It is essential to note that even if your pet survives heat stroke, there may be some irreversible organ damage. This can include such pet health conditions as kidney, liver and brain damage. 

Common symptoms

The symptoms of heat stroke in a pet can progress rapidly, especially when left untreated. Since this is a serious pet health concern, it is essential for you to keep your pet cool at all times and take note of any heat-related distress. If you notice your pet displaying any of the following symptoms, immediate treatment is necessary. Common Symptoms of Heat Stroke in Pets: Excessive Panting/Difficulty, Breathing, Excessive Drooling, Body Temperatures Above 103 Fahrenheit, Fiery Red Gums and Mucous Membranes, Rapid or Irregular Heart Rate, Shock/Collapse, Vomiting and/or Diarrhea With or Without Blood, Muscle Tremors or Seizures, Loss of Coordination and Obvious Distress/Discomfort.

Treatments

If you think that your pet is experiencing heat stroke, you need to try cooling it down immediately. Methods you can use to cool your pet include spraying it with a garden hose, placing it in a tub of water, wiping its paw pads with a wet rag, placing cooling pads on its groin, and/or placing it in front of an electric fan or AC. When your pet's temperature falls below 103, take it to your veterinarian. This is essential in that laryngeal edema may develop. This condition can make breathing impossible, requiring an emergency tracheostomy. Cortisone injections can prevent this problem from occurring. In many cases, your veterinarian may want to hospitalize your pet to monitor its progress and ensure that there are no major complications. Oxygen supplementation may be necessary if your pet continues to have breathing problems. Finally, until your pet has fully recovered, IVs or special diets may be required.

Breeds Affected

While any dog or cat can experience heat stroke under certain conditions, some breeds are more susceptible due to their coats and/or nose structure. In short, pets with heavy coats and/or short muzzles are more vulnerable to heat stroke than other animals. Other conditions that may make your pet vulnerable to heat stroke are listed below. Animals most vulnerable to heat stroke: heavy coats, short muzzles, senior or very young pets, being left alone in cars during hot weather, exercising in hot weather, pre-existing heart or lung conditions, confinement on asphalt or concrete surfaces during hot weather, confinement outdoors without shade and/or water during hot weather and confinement in a garage during hot weather.

Heat Stroke Affects

  • Heat stroke occurs quite rapidly in pets and typically begins with heavy panting and difficulty breathing. Soon after, the tongue and mucous membranes will become fiery red. If left to progress, the animal will begin vomiting and may experience bloody diarrhea. Finally, untreated heat stroke can result in seizures, shock, coma, kidney failure, cardiac arrest and death. It is essential to note that even if your pet survives heat stroke, there may be some irreversible organ damage. This can include such pet health conditions as kidney, liver and brain damage. 

Similar conditions

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