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Heat Stroke - Avoid Summer Danger


Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Heat Stroke

Your dog’s normal body temperature is about 100-103°F. When your dog runs around on a hot, humid day, it isn’t long before her body temperature starts to increase. Because dogs don’t sweat like people do, they can quickly overheat. If your dog’s normal body mechanisms (such as panting) can’t bring her temperature back down to a safe range, a dangerous condition called heat stroke can occur. Heat stroke affects the entire body, and without prompt treatment, it can quickly progress to shock, coma, and death.

What to look for:

  • Rapid panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Red or pale gums
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Weakness, dizziness
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

What to do:

If you suspect heat stroke, take your dog’s temperature with a rectal thermometer. Anything above normal could be cause for concern and you should call your veterinarian. Heat stroke is a medical emergency requiring IMMEDIATE veterinary treatment and care. Soak your dog with lukewarm (never cold) water and cover her with water-soaked towels on the way to the veterinary hospital or emergency clinic. Your veterinarian will administer IV fluids and medications while slowly bringing your pet’s body temperature down to normal. Cooling the body too quickly can be extremely harmful, which is why you should never put cold water (or ice) on a dog with heat stroke. The veterinary staff will also monitor your dog for signs of complications.

Easy ways to help prevent heat stroke

  • NEVER leave your dog unattended in a vehicle, even for a short time. This is a very common cause of canine heat stroke. Even if it’s just warm outside, the temperature inside a car can rise dramatically in only a few minutes.
  • Make sure your dog always has access to shade and clean, fresh water. Our Westport Ceramic Waterer offers an ideal way to provide cool, clean water. Also, don’t leave your dog outside in an unshaded run.

  • Limit your dog’s exercise on hot, humid days. If you must exercise outdoors, head out early in the morning or late in the evening.
  • Indoors, use air-conditioning, fans, tile floors, a cooling pad , or a cooling bed to help keep your dog comfortable.

Know how to prevent heat stroke and enjoy summer fun while keeping your pet safe.

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