Dogs and Heat Stroke

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!



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.

SymptomsHeat 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 hot days.Take precautions for high-risk dogs 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. Heatstroke and High Risk Dogs Homemade Frozen Dog Treats Boston Terrier Breed Profile

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