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The Danger of Heat Stroke in Dogs and How to Prevent it

Dog's have a normal body temperature range of 101F to 102.5F. Anything over that is called Hyperthermia, when the body's temperature is higher than the normal range. Heat stroke is a non fever form of hyperthermia meaning the raised body temperature is not caused by a fever from an infection but is caused by something else. When a dog is dealing with temperatures of 106F or more because his body is not able to deal with excessive external heat the heat stroke that occurs can lead to multiple organ failure.

Causes of non-fever hyperthermia can include being left outside in high temperatures with no shade, being left in a hot car in high temperatures, excessive exercise, being locked in an unventilated room, upper air way disease, hear tor blood vessel disease or some other underlying disease, poisoning, complications from anesthesia. It can affect any dog though ones more likely to be affected are those with long hair and breeds known as brachycephalic which have flat faces and short noses. Age does not have much influence but young dogs have a slightly more chance of being affected than older ones. Dogs more at risk too are ones who;

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Have a heart related disease

Very young or very old

Are obese

Have restricted access to water

Are kept outside in all weather conditions

Have lung disease

Poorly acclimatized to their environment

Have hyperthyroidism

Have thick hair

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Common symptoms of heat stroke include;

Increased body temperature

Dehydration

Panting

Gums looking more red and moist tissues of the body

Drooling excessively

Only peeing in small amounts or not able to at all

Rapid or irregular heart beat

Blood in vomit or stool

Kidney failure

Going into shock

Heart stopping

Breathing distress

Lungs fill with fluid

Blood clots

Generalized inflammation

Stools that are tarry black

Bleeding in small pinpoints

Liver cells die

Change in behavior

Muscle tremors

Seizures

Wobbly when walking

Falling unconscious and not awaking when attempt to revive him are made

Treating a Dog with Heat Stroke

In order to have your dog respond quickly to treatment of heat stroke it is important to realize it is happening as soon as possible. If the cause is te external temperature move him to where it is cooler and bring his body temperature down. You can do this by spraying him with cool water, putting him in a cool bath, wetting towels with cool water and wrapping him in them, use fans on him when he is damp, cooling alcohol can be applied to his paws, armpits and groin. When his temperature is 103F stop cooling him down as you do not want him to fall below normal numbers.

Note the above cooling methods use cool water not cold and not ice. Using water that is too cold could cause the contraction of blood vessels that are near the surface which actually slows down the dissipation of heat. Lowering temperatures too fast can also cause other healthy issues so do it gradually as advised. Let him drink water but make it cool not cold too but if he does not want to, do not force him.

When your dog is stable at a safer temperature call the vet and take him in to be checked on as there is a risk or damage to the organs and brain with heat stroke. Your vet will check things like kidney function, how long blood clotting takes and so a urinalysis. He or she may also do an electrocardiogram to make sure the heart has no irregularities. In severe cases the dog will probably need to be kept in to receive intensive care for a few days. Oxygen can be given, surgery performed if needed, and intravenous feeding can be carried out until he recovers. If there is a disease or underlying factor for the dog experiencing hyperthermia this also needs to be dealt with.

Prevention – Tips on Keeping Your Dog Well on a Hot Day

Once your dog has had hyperthermia once he is more likely to have it again.

Know how to cool your dog down properly.

If your dog is more prone to overheating do not let him out when it is hot, or leave him in places with no ventilation.

Do not leave your dog in a parked car. This is one of the most common ways dogs get heat stroke and even die. People think a cranked window is enough and it is only for a few minutes. Temperatures can get high very quickly in a parked car even with a window cracked. If you cannot take your dog with you to run your errands leave him at home. If you cannot leave him at home find a dog sitter.

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Keep fresh water accessible to him at all times.

Let your dog lick some ice blocks on hot days.

There is dog CPR you can learn if you want to be able to try and revive him.

Make sure if he is outside that he can reach shade and water.

When you go for a walk take water for him too.

If you spot signs of dehydration or overheating get him in a cool area and give water.

On long drives have window shades to protect him.

To check your dog's temperature use a rectal one made specifically for dogs.