Heat stroke in dogs is a serious condition that can be fatal when not treated promptly. Also known as hyperthermia or heat exhaustion, heat stroke can occur rapidly if your dog is left in an extremely hot environment. With that said, it is essential for you to be able to recognize the symptoms of this deadly condition in its early stages.
Symptoms of Hyperthermia in Dogs
Unfortunately, your dog cannot sweat through its skin like you. It releases excess heat through its foot pads and by panting. However, in extremely high temperatures, dogs cannot always expel heat effectively. When this happens, their internal body temperatures begin to rise. It is at this point that your pet may display one or more of the following symptoms.
Early Stages of Hyperthermia in Dogs
- Rectal Temperatures Over 104 Degrees
- Excessive Panting and Drooling
- Bright Red Gums
- Vomiting and/or Diarrhea
- Dizziness or Disorientation
Later Stages of Hyperthermia in Dogs
- Weakness or Unable to Sit or Stand
- Dry Mucus Membranes
- Pale Gums
- Collapse and/or Loss of Consciousness
Treating Heat Exhaustion in Dogs
Treating Heat Exhaustion in Dogs – Early Stages
Dogs in the heat should be removed from their hot environment immediately. If your dog is in early stages of heat stroke, treatment should be started at home right away. Spraying your pet with a garden hose can help to cool its body temperature; however, it is important to avoid getting any water in the nose.
Another way to lower your dog’s body temperature is to place it in a bathtub and run a cool (not cold) shower over its body. Again, extra care should be taken to keep water from entering the nose. As your dog recovers, it should be allowed to drink as much water as possible to treat your dog’s dehydration. Finally, massaging your pet’s legs can help circulation and prevent shock.
Treating Heat Exhaustion in Dogs – Later Stages
If your dog is unconscious, in shock or displays any of the above symptoms of late-stage hyperthermia, it should be taken to a veterinarian right away. Heat stroke can cause a vast array of pet medical problems including kidney failure, brain swelling, blood clots and even death.
While traveling to the vet, it is best to have the air conditioner on. If there is no air conditioner, keep the windows open and have someone wipe the dog down with a cool, damp rag until you get to the clinic. Veterinary treatment mainly focuses on replacing your pet’s lost fluids and minerals through IV therapy.
However, the veterinarian will also monitor your pet for any secondary complications resulting from the hyperthermia. This typically includes such conditions as neurological problems, kidney failure, high blood pressure, abnormal clotting and electrolytes abnormalities.
Prevention of Heat Stroke in Dogs is the Key
Of course, prevention is the key to avoiding heat stroke in dogs altogether. Whenever the temperatures are high, you need to be sure that your pet has a cool place to relax. If you absolutely cannot keep your dog indoors during hot weather, make sure that you provide it with plenty of shade and cool, fresh water.
Additionally, never leave your dog in a car with the windows rolled up or cracked during hot, summer months. The temperature in a closed car can rise dramatically within a very short time. When you follow these tips, you can be sure that your dog will not become overheated, as well as your cat. Find more tips here: Dog Days of Summer.
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