Heat stroke, or hyperthermia, occurs when your pet fails to keep the body’s temperature within a safe range. Animals cooling systems are different than humans and they can easily get overheated, for example we cool off by sweating.
A dog that is suffering from heatstroke will show several signs, including fast panting, an abnormally bright red tongue, sticky saliva, weakness or dizziness, shock, vomiting and, in certain cases, diarrhea.
Dogs with moderate heatstroke can recover within an hour or two if they are given immediate and proper veterinary care, but severe heatstroke can be deadly.
What to do
If your dog is still in a hot environment, remove them immediately. Try to lower their body temperature with cool water, wetting them thoroughly. Beware, using very cold water can have the opposite effect on your pet. Cooling them too quickly can cause other medical conditions that can be life-threatening.
Normal body temperature of a dog is 100-102.5 degrees. Once your pet’s temperature is 103 degrees cooling efforts should be stopped, and the animal should be dried completely to prevent the continued loss of heat. Remember to allow access to water, but do not force your pet to ingest cold water as it may be too shocking to their system.
At your local veterinary office
A trip to your local veterinary clinic is still needed, even if your pet appears to be recovering. Dehydration and other complications could still arise.
While at the vet’s office, your pets’ temperature will be lowered, if you have not been successful already. Your pet could receive fluids and oxygen, be monitored for shock, have respiratory issues, kidney failure, heart problems or other potential complications. Monitoring your pets’ blood could also help.
Dogs recovering from heat stroke usually recover without any complicating health problems, but if the heatstroke is severe enough it can cause organ damage. Once a dog suffers from heatstroke, their risk increases for getting it again.
How to prevent it
Provide water for your pet at all times, as hydration can be key. Never leave your pet in a hot parked car, even in the shade, and even for a short amount of time. Temperatures can quickly rise up to 140 degrees. Avoid places where there is a lack of access to shade, especially the beach or parking lots where heat is reflected. On a hot day, perhaps leave your pet at home, rather than take them hiking with you. On certain trails in Central Oregon, shade and access to water can be sparse, so it’s important to consider those factors.
If your pet has a predisposed condition, like heart disease, is obese or overweight, is old, or has breathing problems, it’s important to keep them cool and in the shade. Regular activity for these pets can become harmful.
Blue Sky Veterinary Clinic is located in Bend, Oregon. They offer urgent care and emergency vet services throughout the day, when needed.