Heat Stroke in Dogs

Many dogs enjoy spending time outdoors and it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside, if you open the door, they are going to head outside. There are times, however, when you need to be especially cautious of the health of your dog, and that is particularly true when it is hot outside. It doesn’t take long for dogs to be overcome by the heat and it could result in a very serious problem, known as hyperthermia or more commonly known as a heat stroke.

The dog’s body has certain ways of keeping the temperature within a safe range. They are lacking the ability to sweat, however, which is why humans are able to handle the heat in most cases. That is why a dog can get overheated quite quickly and it doesn’t take long before the temperature of their body reaches a point where it becomes critical.

When a dog has a moderate heat stroke, their internal body temperature may be anywhere from 104° to 106°F. This is a serious issue but if they are cared for properly and given veterinary attention, they will likely recover from a moderate heat stroke within an hour or so. The normal body temperature of the dog is approximately 101°F so if it reaches over 106°F, it becomes a severe heat stroke. If your dog is suffering from such a severe heat stroke, it is important to get attention quickly because it can be fatal.

It is a good idea to know the signs of heatstroke and to watch for them in your dog. One of the first signs that you will notice is that the dog will be panting rapidly, which is how they cool their body. Pay attention to the color of their tongues and gums, as they will likely be a bright red. Their saliva may also be thicker than usual. Other symptoms include weakness and dizziness, diarrhea or vomiting, depression, shock and in extreme cases, coma.

If you recognize the symptoms in your dog, remove them from the hot area without delay. Begin lowering his body temperature at home by running a towel under cool water and wetting the dog down. If you have a small dog, it is better to use lukewarm water and to blow air over the dog with a fan. Be cautious about lowering the temperature of the dog too quickly because it could lead to shock and other severe medical conditions. At that point, you should stop cooling your dog and immediately get them to a veterinarian.

The veterinarian will monitor the dog’s temperature and continue to reduce it to a safe level. They will be provided with fluids to help hydrate the body and will be monitored for health issues, including kidney failure, respiratory problems, shock and issues with their heart. Most dogs will be able to recover from a heatstroke with the care of a veterinarian but if internal damage has occurred, additional care may be necessary.

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