Heat Stroke in Dogs
Contrary to what most
people believe, dogs overheat more quickly than humans do. They wear their fur coat all year long and they do not sweat. They
cool their bodies by panting, or blowing out heat, which is much less effective than sweating. Even if you are comfortable,
your dog may be too hot!
Also Dogs take longer
too cool if overheated than we do, the estimate is 4 times longer.
What happens in heat stroke?
Heat stroke happens
when heat gain exceeds the body's ability to dissipate heat. High temperatures cause chemical reactions that break down body
cells which lead to dehydration and blood thickening. This puts extreme strain on the heart and causes blood clotting and subsequent death to tissue. Liver, brain and intestinal cells are usually the first to be affected and this
can occur quickly. Normal body temperature for a dog is about 101 F to 102 F. If his temperature reaches 106 F, he is in danger
of brain damage, vital organ failure and death. Reducing body temp quickly is imperative. A dog who recovers can still have organ
damage and lifelong health problems. Temperatures above 106 F are extremely dangerous.
ˇ Rapid, frantic panting
ˇ Wide eyes
ˇ Thick saliva
ˇ Bright red tongue
Heat stroke is deadly! Heat
stroke is an emergency! Cool the dog,
in whatever way you can and get him to a veterinarian immediately! Hose him off, immerse him in cool (not cold) water, use fans, take him to air conditioning, or sponge the groin area,
tummy area, wet his tongue, place rolled up wet towels against his head, neck, tummy, and between his legs. When his temperature
drops to 104 F or 103 F, stop cooling efforts. Cooling too fast or too much can cause other problems.
If the dog's temperature is
still high when he reaches the vet's office, they may give a cool water enema, cool water gastric lavage (rinse the stomach),
and IV fluids, and draw blood samples. The dog will be monitored for shock, kidney failure, heart abnormalities, respiratory
stress, and blood clotting time. The dog may be given oxygen, dextrose, cortisone, antihistamines, anticoagulants, or antibiotics.
Once he is stabilized, he may require follow up treatment.
Never, ever leave your dog
in a parked car! Not even for a few minutes! Heat inside a parked car can build, in just a few short minutes, to as much as
40 degrees above the outside temperature. For instance, on an 80 F day, temperatures in a parked car can reach 120 F in as little as ten minutes, especially if the
car is in the sun. Leaving the windows cracked helps very little and that's only IF there's a breeze. Factor in humidity and
the dog doesn't have a snowball's chance!
For outside dogs, provide
shade, ventilation, wading pool, and cool drinking water. Keep in mind that shade moves as the earth rotates.
Make sure water containers
are large enough to supply water at all times and secure so they cannot be turned over.
Make sure that tied dogs cannot
wind their tether around something, preventing access to water. Caution: Chains will wrap around themselves and shorten when the dog runs in circles.
Crate only in a wire crate.
Clip heavy coated dogs to
a one inch length. Leave one inch for insulation, and protection against sunburn.
Allow dogs unaccustomed to
warm weather, several days to acclimate.
Do not exercise your dog on
Take precautions for at risk
dogs (see below) when the heat index reaches 75 F. The single most frequent cause for heat stroke in dogs is overheating in a parked car. If
this article accomplishes nothing else, I hope it educates readers on the importance of leaving Buddy home, not only on hot
days but on warm days as well.
Which dogs are at higher risk of heat stroke?
Brachycephalic breeds -Breeds
with short faces, such as Pugs, Pekingese, Mastiffs, and Boxers, are at higher risk of overheating since their shorter airways
do not cool as efficiently as with other breeds.
Dogs with dark or thick coats
-As we learned in elementary school, light colors reflect heat and dark colors absorb heat. Dark coated dogs such as black
Labs, Dobermans, and Rottweilers will have a harder time dissipating heat than white coated dogs.
Dogs with respiratory diseases
-Any dog that is coughing, sneezing, wheezing, experiencing nasal discharge, lung congestion, or any pulmonary disease will
be at greater risk of heat stroke.
Overexerted dogs -Dogs who
are not accustomed to warm weather need time to adjust. Heat stroke doesn't always occur in extreme temperatures. Some dogs
can have a heat stroke in an air conditioned room if they become overexcited and active. Do not work or exercise your dog
on hot days or in the heat of the day. And don't rely on the dog to know when enough is enough.
Sick dogs, older dogs or puppies
under 6 months
Dogs with fever -When temperatures
reach 106 F and above, the dog is in danger of heat stroke.
Dogs on certain medications
-Dogs taking certain medications such as diuretics are more susceptible to heat stroke.
Dehydrated dogs -Dogs unable
to reach water can become dehydrated quickly on hot days. Panting also hastens dehydration.
Dogs with heart disease or
poor circulation -Dogs whose circulatory systems are not up to par cannot dissipate heat efficiently.
Overweight dogs -Overweight
dogs may have lessened breathing efficiency and tend to hold heat.
Muzzled dogs -Dogs wearing
muzzles cannot breathe or pant efficiently on warm days. Heat strokes have been reported in dogs standing under a grooming
parlor dryer while muzzled.
Dogs who have had a previous
heat stroke -If a dog has had a heat stroke before, he will always be more susceptible to another.
If your dog falls into one
or more of these groups, take precautions, when the heat index rises above 75 F.
Heat stroke is serious, heat
stroke is easier to prevent then treat.
Marcia Murray-Stoof - C.P.D.T.
Dog Training Instructor
Good Neighbour Evaluator
Dog & Cat Evaluator
Exhibitor of Dogue De Bordeauxs