Heat Stroke in Dogs

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Heat Stroke in Dogs

Postby bessamour » 26 Jun 2011, 20:21


This is a very serious and life threatening condition. Please visit this website and read Dr. Henry de Boer's article on Heat Stroke.


Heatstroke occurs when normal body mechanisms cannot keep the body's temperature in a safe range. Animals do not have efficient cooling systems (like humans who sweat) and get overheated easily. A dog with moderate heatstroke (body temperature from 104º to 106ºF - 40C - 41C) can recover within an hour if given PROMPT first aid and veterinary care (normal body temperature is 100-102.5°F = 38C - 39C). Severe heatstroke (body temperature over 106ºF,) can be deadly and immediate veterinary assistance is needed.


A dog suffering from heatstroke will display several signs:

* Rapid panting
* Bright red tongue
* Red or pale gums
* Thick, sticky saliva
* May be standing four square, posting or spreading out, trying to maintain balance
* Going "off it's legs"
* Depression
* "Wild" look in eyes
* Weakness
* Dizziness
* Vomiting - sometimes with blood
* Diarrhea
* Shock
* Coma

What you should do

Remove the dog from the hot area immediately. Prior to taking him to your vet, lower his temperature by wetting him thoroughly with cool water NOT VERY COLD WATER (for very small dogs, use lukewarm water), then increase air movement around him with a fan.
CAUTION: Using very cold water can actually be counterproductive. Cooling too quickly and especially allowing his body temperature to become too low can cause other life-threatening medical conditions. The rectal temperature should be checked every 5 minutes. Once the body temperature is 103ºF, the cooling measures should be stopped and the dog should be dried thoroughly and covered so he does not continue to lose heat. Even if the dog appears to be recovering, take him to your vet as soon as possible. He should still be examined since he may be dehydrated or have other complications.

Allow free access to water or a children's rehydrating solution if the dog can drink on his own. DO NOT try to force-feed cold water; the dog may inhale it or choke.

What your vet will do

Your vet will lower your dog's body temperature to a safe range (if you have not already) and continually monitor his temperature. Your dog will be given fluids, and possibly oxygen. He will be monitored for shock, respiratory distress, kidney failure, heart abnormalities, and other complications, and treated accordingly. Blood samples may be taken before and during the treatment. The clotting time of the blood will be monitored, since clotting problems are a common complication.


Dogs with moderate heatstroke often recover without complicating health problems. Severe heatstroke can cause organ damage that might need ongoing care such as a special diet prescribed by your vet. Dogs who suffer from heatstroke once increase their risk for getting it again and steps must be taken to prevent it on hot, humid days.


Any pet that cannot cool himself off is at risk for heatstroke. Following these guidelines can help prevent serious problems.

* Keep pets with predisposing conditions like heart disease, obesity, older age, or breathing problems cool and in the shade. Even normal activity for these pets can be harmful.
* Provide access to water at all times.
* Do not leave your pet in a hot parked car even if you're in the shade or will only be gone a short time. The temperature inside a parked car can quickly reach up to 140 degrees.
* Make sure outside dogs have access to shade.
* On a hot day, restrict exercise and don't take your dog jogging with you. Too much exercise when the weather is very hot can be dangerous.
* Do not muzzle your dog.
* Avoid places like the beach and especially concrete or asphalt areas where heat is reflected and there is no access to shade.
* Wetting down your dog with cool water or allowing him to swim can help maintain a normal body temperature.
* Move your dog to a cool area of the house. Air conditioning is one of the best ways to keep a dog cool, but is not always dependable. To provide a cooler environment, freeze water in soda bottles, or place ice and a small amount of water in several resealable food storage bags, then wrap them in a towel or tube sock. Place them on the floor for the dog to lay on.

Pump and spray garden bottles are an excellent way to wet your dog. They can hold about two gallons. You can mist or soak them down.

Some dogs are stress drinkers and some dogs drink less when under stress. If your dog drinks less or doesn't eat well when stressed (dogs with decreased appetites often do not drink well), try some of these things:

* Gatorade, not so much for the electrolytes as for the taste, and/or beef or chicken broth with you to encourage your dog to drink. Some dogs like the broth even if it's watered down.
* You can also try adding baby food to water to encourage drinking.
* You can place cold packs under the armpits and in the groin regions of overheated dogs to help cool them down. (DON'T ice the paws -- the dog will just shut down the blood supply to them!)
* Keep rubbing alcohol in your emergency kit. At a pinch, you can soak a dog's paws in it for the evaporative cooling effect!
* Add ice cubes or hard sided ice packs to water dishes. Some dogs will eat ice cubes even when they don't want to drink!
* Keep your dog in the shade as much as possible. If you are keeping him in a cage, make sure it is entirely shaded.
* Consider carrying a battery operated fan.


Between racing, keep your dogs quiet and cool.

A child's sandpit filled with water is ideal for a dog to lie down in to cool itself. If you have room in your vehicle, take one with you to competitions where no paddle pools are available.
There are Doggy Pools that can be folded: no air pump or endless blowing up: just unfold it and put water in, from zooplus.co.uk

Prevention is better than cure.

Valerie & the gang
Sheffield Flyball Teams
Kate, Billie and Shannon, Dizzy
Sheffield Flyball Teams

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Location: Lincolnshire

Re: Heat Stroke in Dogs

Postby Kronch » 01 Aug 2011, 08:03

If you have one of those dogs who does not drink or does not seem to bearing in mind you should be looking at at least a litre a day you can boil cheap chicken in a large pan and make sure he or she drink two bowls a day after it has been chilled. That way any other fluid is a bonus and you can use the chicken either for the dog or for salad.
Posts: 22
Joined: 24 Jul 2011, 21:21

Re: Heat Stroke in Dogs

Postby bessamour » 01 Aug 2011, 10:18

I do this by boiling either a bit of chicken or lean beef in 2 litres of water to take to tournaments because my Kate drinks too little, but she loves this. Have to be careful a dog doesn't drink this too much at a time or it may make it throw it up.
I've also used 1 tablespoonful of honey in 2 litres of water just for a change (usually Manuka 10 honey).
Billie drinks well and as long as she has access to lay down in water she doesn't overheat.

x x x
Kate, Billie and Shannon, Dizzy
Sheffield Flyball Teams

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Posts: 487
Joined: 26 Jun 2011, 20:01
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