Hyperthermia (Heatstroke)

April 12, 2012

Hyperthermia, known more commonly as heatstroke, is a dangerous condition that affects a lot of dogs. Hyperthermia often occurs during the warm months of the year when we are outdoors with our dogs and they are running around having a good time. The problem is that hyperthermia can set in quickly and before you know it your dog can be in a precarious situation. Knowing what to do to help your dog can be the difference between a speedy recovery and a not so speedy recovery, or even death.

Symptoms

Heat stroke or hyperthermia will occur in your dog when the dogs’ body temperature rises above the normal 101-102. A dog cannot keep their body cool like a human can, and this is because they do not sweat. Moderate heat stroke is defined as a dog that as a temperature of 104 to 106 and a dog with severe heat stroke has a body temperature of more than 106. Hyperthermia can be deadly, so it is important to look for and react to the following heat stroke symptoms:

  • Bright red tongue
  • Rapid panting
  • Red or pale gums
  • Thick or sticky saliva
  • Depression
  • General weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Shock
  • Diarrhea
  • Coma

Prevention

Preventing heat stroke is generally quite simple in dogs. You just need to keep them cool. Dogs can overheat quickly and this is because they do not sweat. While they pant this is not as efficient and as effective as sweating, which can result in a rapid increase in their body temperature. Keep your pets indoors on hot days, don’t leave them in cars, and make sure that they have access to shade and water at all times. When it is hot do not take your dog jogging or encourage any form of exercise, and if your dog does appear hot help him cool down by bringing him into a cooler environment or cooling him off with the hose.

Treatment

If you believe your dog is suffering from heat stroke the first thing you need to do is get them to a cooler area. Wet your dog with cool (but not cold) water and put a fan on the dog to allow cool air to blow over them. Check your dog’s rectal temperature every five minutes until the temperature reaches 103 degrees and then make sure that the dog is completely dried and then cover them to make sure that they don’t lose too much heat. Allow your dog to access all of the water that he or she wants, and even offer re-hydrating products that are made for children to help replace any lost electrolytes.

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