Heat Stroke in Dogs

Heat stroke in dogs should be considered a highly dangerous condition. It may seem normal for dogs to romp and play in the yard; however they don't have the ability to effectively cool themselves after a thorough workout. The only means a dog has for sweating and cooling himself down is by panting. But panting can only cool a dog down so much because the technique does not allow sweat to escape from the entire body.

Risk Factors for Heat Strokes

All dogs are susceptible to heat stroke when the outside heat is excessive. However, some breeds, known as bronchial breeds, are more vulnerable to the effects of heat. Bronchial breeds are those which have short, pug-like noses where the normal airway is naturally constricted. Bronchial breeds include the pug, bulldog and boston terrier.

Additionally, leaving your dog in a crate in excessive heat or in a car with no air conditioning can all be contributing factors to heat stroke.

Causes of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Heat stroke occurs when a dog's body becomes too hot and there is no effective means to cool it down. A dog's normal temperature will range between 101 and 102 degrees. That being said, heat stroke can cause your dog's temperature levels to rise to well over 105 degrees. When this happens, your dog's life is in jeopardy.

Once the body temperature escalates to such a high point, there is no way that panting will cool your dog down quick enough to save his life. The organs of the body will begin to shutdown because they cannot work under that level of heat.

When the symptoms of heat stroke are noticed, they need to be treated immediately because you may only have a few minutes left to save your dog's life.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

The symptoms of heat stroke are very noticeable because they come on strong and quick. In addition, it will probably be obvious to you that this is occurring if your dog has spent many hours outside on a hot day. Some of the symptoms to look for include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Loss of coordination
  • Not being able to walk straight
  • Loss of energy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice or paling of the gums

When any of these symptoms are recognized, it is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately.

Treatment for Canine Heat Stroke

If your dog becomes affected by heat stroke, and the situation has not reached an extremely severe level, there are a few things that you can do at home to try to bring his temperature down.

First and foremost, you need to remove your dog from direct heat. After that, you should bathe your dog in cool water. Make sure that the water is not ice cold, as this can cause your dog's body to go into shock. You should continue monitoring your dog's temperature during this time. If you can bring your dog's temperature back to normal range, around 101 to 102 degrees, then you stop the cooling down procedures.

In severe cases, only a veterinarian will be able to assist. If your dog's temperature cannot be brought down with home remedies, or the condition is severe from the start, your veterinarian will need to administer liquids to your dog intravenously to keep him from dehydrating and to bring his temperature down. The veterinarian will also perform various different tests to check vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys, for significant damage. If any of these organs have been severely harmed during heat stroke, the consequences may be irreversible.