Heat Stroke In Dogs

The grass has finally emerged from the snow covered land of Minnesota. Our canine companions are excited about the warm weather and begging to have fun in the sun, but at what risk? Heat stroke can have a sudden onset during the “dog days” of summer and is a concern for even our most athletic canine friends.

Choose appropriate times of the day for activites.  Morning and evening tend to be a little cooler.  Allow access to fresh water and shade throughout your outdoor activity. Pay attention to paved walkways. If it’s too hot for your bare feet, chances are your pet’s feet can also be burned.
Take consideration of any pre-existing health conditions that may put your dog at risk for early onset of heat stroke. Some of these conditions could be dependant on his/her breed. Dogs with short muzzles or dark coats are especially at risk. Other considerations would include obesity, pre-existing diseases, or medications used.

Never leave your pet in the car on warm days, even if you think there is adequate ventilation. Studies indicate that your canine companion can succumb to the high temperature within the car after only 20 minutes.
Humidity can also play a role in heat stroke victims. A dog pants to reduce internal body temperature.  While panting, your pet inhales cooler air into his/her system at a fast rate. If the air in which your pet is breathing is hot and humid, it is less likely to cool itself.

Signs of Heat Stroke:

  • signs of stress or discomfort
  • excessive panting, hyperventilation or hypoventilation
  • excessive salivation or decreased salivation
  • weakness, confusion or loss of balance
  • pale, bright red or gray gums, possibly tacky to the touch indicating dehydration
  • vomiting or diarrhea, may contain blood
  • sudden bleeding from the nose
  • seizures or sudden collapse
  • increased rectal temperature, above 104°F
  • not panting, even when warmTreatment Recommendations:If you suspect that your canine companion is experiencing signs of heat stroke, it is important that you react quickly. Your pet’s high body temperature can lead to respiratory distress, organ damage or even death.

    First remove your pet from the sun’s exposure, beneath a shady tree or an air conditioned building. Then, submerge your pet with cool water (never cold water which can lead to hypothermia or tissue damage). You can also apply cold packs to the axillary (armpits) or inguinal (abdomen) regions, neck or feet. Allow access to cool drinking water.

    Seek veterinary medical attention immediately after your first reponse care. Delayed complications are possible after the onset of heat stroke.

    Remember to follow these important precautions the next time you and your canine companion decide to step out into the summer sun. Your friend will be grateful for your careful consideration.

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