Hyperthermia (Heat Stroke)

Hyperthermia is the elevation of body temperature above normal. In some cases it is a fever but it can also be a result of over heating. With outdoor temperatures approaching the mid 90’s dogs are at high risk of heat stroke. It sounds simple but pets basically require shade and water to prevent over heating. Usually shade provides 85 degrees or less and the water prevents dehydration. Cloudy days are as dangerous as sunny. Jogging dogs are as likely to have a heat stroke as backyard sleepers. Overweight, geriatric and “flat faced” dogs are of greater risk.

The only way dogs can dissipate heat is by way of panting. They do not sweat from the skin like humans do. If they become over heated and dehydrated, they lose their ability to reduce their body temperature by panting.

The most common sign of heat stroke is vigorous panting. The pet is usually lying on his side and unable to get up. We sometimes find large amounts of frothy or ropy saliva coming from the mouth or nose. The gum membrane is usually red but can appear pale or “muddy”. Sometimes a pet will be in shock.

What to Do:

· Remove pet from the environment where the hyperthermia occurred.

· Move the pet to shade and direct a fan to produce a breeze

· Apply cool water to legs and trunk.

· Can apply rubbing alcohol to facility a more rapid cooling.

· Take your pet to a veterinarian.

What Not to Do:

· Do not use cold water or ice to cool your pet.

· Do not over cool.

· Do not try to force water orally, allow the dog to drink when he’s ready.

· Do not leave pet unattended even if feeling better.

Prevention is always the best medicine. Make sure your pet has access to water and shade at all times. Limit exercise to cooler times of day and increase the frequency of water breaks during exercise. If you have any doubt about your pet being over heated, exercise caution, cool your pet and seek veterinary help.