Dog Heat Strokes
Heat Stroke in Dogs: Learn about Heat Stroke, including how it can affect your dog, and what options are available to manage this type of emergency condition.
Definition of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke, also called non-pyrogenic hyperthermia, is an elevation of a dog’s core body temperature due to internal production of excess heat, exposure to high environmental temperatures or failure of its body to disseminate heat properly. The normal temperature range in dogs is between 100 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Dogs don’t tolerate high environmental temperatures well because they don’t sweat. Dogs dissipate body heat by panting, which helps them bring in cooler air from the outside. When external temperatures are higher than a dog’s body temperature, even panting can’t cool it down. Dogs with heat stroke become increasingly restless and uncomfortable as their temperature rises. They pant, have trouble breathing and become weak. Eventually, they lie down and slip into a coma. By this point, death is imminent unless the dog receives immediate aggressive medical attention. Unfortunately, many owners don’t notice the signs of heat stroke until it is too late.
Heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, is a true medical emergency. Dogs don’t tolerate high environmental temperatures as well as most other mammals do because dogs don’t sweat, except to a very small degree through their paw pads. Dogs can only dissipate body heat by panting, which helps them exchange hot air from their inside for cooler air from the outside. When external temperatures are close to or higher than a dog’s internal body temperature
Dogs suffering from heat stroke will become restless and uncomfortable as their body temperature rises. They will pant, have trouble breathing and feel weak and lethargic. They may whimper, cry out or bark as their discomfort increases. Eventually, affected animals will be in so much distress that they will lie down, become listless and slip into a coma. Unfortunately, by this point, death is fairly imminent unless the dog receives immediate and aggressive medical
Fortunately, heat stroke, also referred to as “hyperthermia,” is usually fairly easy to diagnose. Most dogs suffering from this condition will be taken to a veterinarian with a recent history of excessive panting, lethargy, weakness and/or collapse. The veterinarian will quickly take the dog’s rectal temperature, which in the case of heat stroke will be markedly elevated. This, together with the ambient outdoor temperature and the owner’s account of the dog’s recent activities, usually will
Heat stroke can kill a dog in a very short period of time, if the condition is not treated aggressively. The goals of treating heat stroke are to establish an open airway and provide oxygen to improve gas exchange and allow for additional dissipation of heat, cool the dog off, lower the dog’s body temperature to the normal range and identify and resolve the underlying cause of overheating. This may be as simple as removing