After one of the coldest and wettest Junes on record, it does seem odd talking about heat stroke in dogs. But it is better to be aware of it in advance, before it is too late.
Heat stroke is a term commonly used for hyperthermia or elevated body temperature.
Body temperature is normally 38.5§ Celsius.
If it reaches 39.4§, it is hyperthermic. And above 41§ can result in multiple organ failure and often death if goes between 41.2 and 42.7§.
The most common cause of heat stroke is leaving a dog in a car with inadequate ventilation.
Dogs can only control their temperature by panting.
They do not have sweat glands on most of their body except in their foot pads, so they cannot sweat like humans do to allow cooling of the body as sweat evaporates.
They can also get heat stroke in a hot backyard with no shade, excessive exercise, or also from excess use of a hot hairdryer in grooming facilities.
Some dogs such as bulldogs and pugs have more difficulty breathing and panting and are more prone to heat stroke on a hot day.
It only takes a few minutes for a dog locked in a hot vehicle to suffer from heat stroke and it is a medical emergency.
Tips on treating heat stroke
Treatment involves pouring cool water over the head, stomach, armpits, and feet.
Cool water baths, intravenous fluids, oxygen, and even mild sedation may be useful also to treat heat stroke.
The prognosis for recovery depends on how high the temperature had reached and for how long.
Most pets will make a quick recovery if treated immediately, while others may have permanent organ damage and later die of complications secondary to the hyperthermia.
Always be aware of how hot a vehicle can become in the summer and never leave a pet unattended in a closed vehicle even for a few minutes.
- Veterinarian and owner of Alouette Animal Hospital. Send your questions to email@example.com.