Heat Stroke: How to Spot It, Treat It, and Prevent It

As the temperature continues to rise and we start enjoying the outdoors with our furry friends, our pets are at risk of developing heat stroke. While for us it is not a big deal to go for a walk or run a quick errand to the store, this can lead to our pets overheating due to a variety of factors. Pets have fewer sweat glands than their human counterparts; therefore, they cool themselves by panting. If your pet is overweight, a senior, or has underlying heart and lung problems, they are higher risk. Brachycephalic dogs such as bulldogs and pugs also have an increased risk due to their shorter oral and nasal cavities which are less efficient at cooling their body temperature.

Here are some signs of heat stroke to watch out for:

  • Excessive panting or drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Incoordination
  • Vomiting or diarrhea, which may contain blood
  • Collapse
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors

If you see any of these sign, immediately transfer them to a cool environment, such as your air conditioned home, and offer water. Place them in a bathtub of cool water. If you have a sprayer, you can spray their body (not their head) with cool water. Never place them in an ice bath. Remove your pet from the cool water once their temperature reaches 103 degrees and dry them off.

After cooling your pet with the above method, call our office and a veterinarian will relay instructions on what to do next- whether to transfer to an emergency hospital or come in for further treatment.

Here are some tips on how to avoid heat stroke this summer:

  • Avoid exercising your pet during hot weather days
  • Never leave your pet outside or unsupervised during hot weather
  • Never leave your pet alone for any period of time in a parked car even if it does not seem hot outside. Heat can build up quickly in a car.
  • Keep higher risk pets (senior pets, pets with heavy coats, pets with breathing problems) in air conditioned environments except for short bathroom breaks.

If you are unsure if your pet is experiencing heat stroke, please call our office! We are here to help you keep your fur babies safe!

Source: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/heatstroke-in-dogs/