Heat stroke is an emergency and requires immediate treatment. Because dogs do not sweat (except to a minor degree through their foot pads), they do not tolerate high environmental temperatures as well as humans do. Dogs depend upon panting to exchange warm air for cool air. But when air temperature is close to body temperature, cooling by panting is not an efficient process.

Common situations that can set the stage for heat stroke in dogs include:

·       Being left in a car in hot weather

·       Exercising strenuously in hot, humid weather

·       Being a brachycephalic breed, especially a Bulldog, Pug, or Pekingese

·      Suffering from a heart or lung disease that interferes with efficient breathing

·       Being muzzled while put under a hair dryer

·       Suffering from a high fever or seizures

·       Being confined on concrete or asphalt surfaces

·       Being confined without shade and fresh water in hot weather

·       Having a history of heat stroke

What are the signs of heatstroke?
Signs of heatstroke include:

Increased heart rate

Excessive panting

Increased salivation

Bright red tongue

Red or pale gums

Thick, sticky saliva

Depression

Weakness

Dizziness

Vomiting (sometimes with blood)

Diarrhea

Treatment of Heatstroke

Treatment: Emergency measures to cool the dog must begin at once. Move the dog out of the source of heat, preferably into an air-conditioned building. Take his rectal temperature every 10 minutes. Mild cases may be resolved by moving the dog into a cool environment.

If the rectal temperature is above 104°F, begin rapid cooling by spraying the dog with a garden hose or immersing him in a tub of cool water (not ice water) for up to two minutes. Alternatively, place the wet dog in front of an electric fan. Cool packs applied to the groin area may be helpful, as well as wiping his paws off with cool water. Monitor his rectal temperature and continue the cooling process until the rectal temperature falls below 103°F (39°C). At this point, stop the cooling process and dry the dog. Further cooling may induce hypothermia and shock.

Following an episode of heat stroke, take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Heat stroke can be associated with laryngeal edema. This seriously worsens the breathing problem and may require an emergency tracheostomy. An injection of cortisone before the onset of respiratory distress may prevent this problem.

Other consequences of hyperthermia include kidney failure, spontaneous bleeding, irregular heartbeat, and seizures. These complications can occur hours or days later.

How can heatstroke be prevented?

  • Keep pets with predisposing conditions like heart disease, obesity, older age, or breathing problems cool and in the shade. Even normal activity for these pets can be harmful. 

  • Provide access to water at all times. 

  • Do not leave your pet in a hot parked car even if you're in the shade or will only be gone a short time. The temperature inside a parked car can quickly reach up to 140 degrees. 

  • Make sure outside dogs have access to shade. 

  • On a hot day, restrict exercise and don't take your dog jogging with you. Too much exercise when the weather is very hot can be dangerous. 

  • Do not muzzle your dog. 

  • Avoid places like the beach and especially concrete or asphalt areas where heat is reflected and there is no access to shade. 

  • Wetting down your dog with cool water or allowing him to swim can help maintain a normal body temperature. 

  • Move your dog to a cool area of the house. Air conditioning is one of the best ways to keep a dog cool, but is not always dependable. To provide a cooler environment, freeze water in soda bottles, or place ice and a small amount of water in several resealable food storage bags, then wrap them in a towel or tube sock. Place them on the floor for your pet to lay on.

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