Heat Stroke in Dogs - The Dangers And Prevention Of Heat Stroke In Dogs

Dr. Meghan Denney
Four Paws At Fulshear

You know what we should talk about? We should talk about heat stroke. Want to know why that's important? Because it's going to be over a hundred degrees for the next four days in Texas. Last week, the veterinary emergency group had six heat strokes in a 45 minute period. Four of them did not make it. So what is heat stroke? Heat stroke is basically exactly what it sounds like. It's when the animal gets overheated. This happens most commonly in dogs, but it can happen in cats. Heat stroke can happen to any animal, but it happens when the body temperature rises above 102.5. In dogs, their main mechanism of releasing heat is panting. Signs that dogs are starting to get overheated are just heavy panting, tongue completely hanging out, and dark red gums and tongue. When it gets even hotter, they can get nauseated, they can get dizzy, stumbly, they can collapse, vomit, and have diarrhea. All these things are possible. I've had a dog come in so hot that it was too high to read on the thermometer and by the time we were able to get a reading, it was 110 degrees. Your brain can only handle being so warm for so long before it completely gets fried.

It's really important to know the signs of heat stroke and what to watch out for. If you do notice that your dog is getting overheated, please bring the dog inside. You can also dump the dog in a pool. Sometimes you’ll notice that they can't catch their breath. The breeds that are the most at risk for heat stroke are brachycephalic breeds, which are smushed faced dogs like Frenchies, bulldogs, pit bulls, Boston Terriers, and pugs. A few of the patients that did not make it at the emergency clinic last weekend were bulldogs that had accidentally been left in a shed in the middle of the day. So it's super important to be conscientious, provide lots of shade and water. The brachiocephalic or smush-faced dogs shouldn’t be outside any more than about 10 to 15 minutes and never without supervision when it is hot.

If you do see any of the signs of heat stroke in your dog, you need to proceed to the nearest veterinary clinic or emergency clinic. Give them a call on the way so they can be ready. Treatment of this varies. Sometimes we can save them, sometimes we can't. It involves rapidly cooling them down and giving IV fluids. Just be aware that it's much easier and cheaper to prevent heat stroke than to treat heat stroke. I have also lost patients to heat stroke, so this is very important.

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