Jul 9, 2013

Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is an elevation in body temperature above normal range caused by environmental
conditions. Although normal values for dogs vary slightly, it usually is accepted that body temperatures above 103° F (39° C) are abnormal.

Because dogs do not sweat (except to a minor degree through their foot pads & nose), they do not tolerate high environmental temperatures as well as humans do. Dogs depend upon panting to exchange warm air for cool air. But when air temperature is close to body temperature, cooling by panting is not an efficient process.
Hyperthermia can become a life threatening situation quickly and requires immediate treatment. Heatstroke generally occurs during the summer when dogs are exposed to hot and humid conditions. Incidence is often increased in early summer before dogs are able to acclimate to the warmer weather. Situations that generally lead to heat stroke are: vigorous exercise, spending extended time outdoors with no shade, or after being left in a hot vehicle with inadequate ventilation. Overweight dogs, brachycephalic breeds (pug, bulldog, Pekingese) puppies, and geriatric dogs are at increased risk for heatstroke.
Symptoms  include:
  • Excessive Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Dehydration
  • Reddened or almost purple gums
  • Rapid heart rate
  • vomiting
  • Wobbly, uncoordinated or drunken gait or movement
  • Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened

Heat stroke leads to cell damage in the blood vessels, brain, and other organ systems. If heatstroke is caught early and treated aggressively the prognosis is often good. However, if clinical signs are severe, multiple organ failure and death may occur.
If you believe your dog may have heatstroke remove your pet from the hot environment, direct a fan towards your dog, and place cool, wet towels on the paws, neck, armpits and groin. Do not use cold water or ice as this will cause vasoconstriction and slow the cooling process. Transport your pet to a veterinarian immediately.