Overheating in Dogs

heat stroke in dogs, online vet reviewsAs the weather warms up, it is important to brush up on your knowledge of heat stroke in pets.

Signs that your dog is overheated

Panting is one of the most early and common signs, followed by the dog appearing dull or disoriented. Breathing is usually fast and noisy. They may even collapse or convulse. Their gums may either be bright red or blue. Vomiting, diarrhea, and internal bleeding (manifesting as red/purple spots on the gums, skin, urine, or feces) may occur. Sudden death from cardiac arrhythmias is even a possibility.

If your dog is just panting and you aren’t sure if they are in danger for overheating, you can attempt to take their temperature. Heat stroke usually occurs at a temperature of 104 F and over . Keep in mind, rectal temperatures are the most accurate way to take your dog’s temperature, however, if they have stool in their rectum, it will be artificially lowered.

What should you do if you suspect your dog is overheated?

Grab your dog, wet him or her with cool tap water, and head to the veterinarian ASAP! Wrap your dog in a wet towel on the way to the hospital, as lowering the temperature (slowly, not rapidly) is of crucial and timely importance. Cool tap water, not ice, should be used. If you dog shows interest in drinking water, allow them by all means. If you dog is unconscious, make sure no water can get up their nose or mouth. Call your vet en route, so they can have a team prepared to act quickly!

What causes heat stroke?

Heat stroke is usually caused by high environmental temperatures, but can be precipitated by several factors, both external and internal within the pet themselves. Causes are usually divided into two categories: those which decrease the pet’s ability to disperse excess body heat, and those which increase body temperature.

A poorly ventilated space, sudden exposure to high temperatures, high humidity, and limited water access are all factors that may increase your pet’s chance for heat stroke. Other factors that increase your dog’s chance for overheating include obesity, respiratory disease, thick hair coats or jackets, and extensive periods of exercise, such as racing or sporting dogs. Breeds with shortened upper respiratory passageways, such as pugs, and English bulldogs, are also at increased risk. Certain hormonal problems or even a pet that is already suffering from a fever are also at increased risk.

online vet reviews, heat stroke in dogsWhat is the treatment for heat stroke?

As stated above, getting your pet to the vet is crucial and of timely importance. The goals of therapy are to safely lower the body temperature, treat shock or other negative consequences if they have occurred, and correct the contributing factors. While at the vet, applying alcohol to the ears, foot pads, and groin are common tricks to safely lowering the temperature, as well as administering cool IV fluids. If your pet is suffering more serious side effects, a breathing tube may need to be placed and artificial ventilation began. Correcting electrolyte imbalances and controlling seizures are also of top importance. Depending on the severity of the heat stroke, hospitalization of multiple days may be required, especially if organ damage is suspected.

How likely or unlikely is my dog to survive heat stroke?

The prognosis again depends on how high the pet’s temperature was, and how long it was elevated. Survival is poor for comatose animals, animals with kidney or liver failure, or internal and unresponsive bleeding. Also, please remember animals that survive heat stroke are more susceptible to repeat occurrences so proper care must be taken to avoid situations where your pet is at risk for hyperthermia.

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May 29, 2011 at 00:16

Our guys don’t like heat much, so we are always on guard. You can see their tongues and gums getting brighter color if they’re getting hot.

I am even more paranoid because I have seen what hyperthermia can do (when Jasmine got a drug induced one and it fried her muscles and blood).

We always have drinking water and extra water to use for cooling if needed. Jasmine also has a cooling jacket and for longer trips I take rubbing alcohol, just in case.

May 29, 2011 at 15:04

Poor Jasmine, she has just about been through it all! That is great that you bring alcohol with you–it really is incredible at cooling. I know what you mean about paranoia after seeing what hyperthermia can do–I think being vets has made us so more paranoid about our own pets because we’ve seen so much stuff that “isn’t supposed” to happen. There are always outliers unfortunately.

May 29, 2011 at 15:21

Yes, she has–and the hyperthermia was by far the most horrible thing that happened to her. She couldn’t get up on her own, could barely stand when helped up (and I’m sure that was just because she is an extremely determined girl) … it took over a week before she could get around on her own and a full month before she started getting proper use of her body again.

September 30, 2011 at 13:09


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January 30, 2012 at 04:09

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March 30, 2012 at 15:17

I am having the same problem….well not exactly but letting your dog run free in a backyard isnt always easy. I adopted my dog in April & she is about 11 months & she has a huge backyard to play in…she chooses to jump our 7ft wooded fence…its insane! I have no idea what to do with her…i didnt want to put her in a kennel, so we let her roam the yard & now she is escaping every single day. Thank goodness for my neighbors…but now have no idea what to do with her…any suggestions?

July 27, 2012 at 16:05

oh yea, hes really enojniyg that I cant really see my puppy fighting that either he loves ear rubs. I have a problem though.. I just got my puppys ears cropped ten days ago. I am really worried about cleaning them. Seems like this might be painful. But they are dirty and need done. Also, is it harmful to get water in the ears, like during his bath?

May 13, 2012 at 18:36

fascinating blog post, gratitude for the info

July 27, 2012 at 07:23

i have pet plan… all i can say is its amazing. go to the wstbiee and check it out… i have the gold plan which gives u $20,000 of coverage a year and you pick ur deductable and coinsurance..(i have a $50 deductable and 0% coinsurance) so i only pay $50 and pet plan pays the rest.they have the most coverage, even hereditary diseases and hip dysplasia.for more information, you can look at other questions ive answered about pet insurance, theres alot

July 20, 2012 at 14:36

I wish I had come across your site earlier but I was just an uninformed owner. I occasionally put my dogs outside to enjoy some sun, always putting a bowl of ice water (for their enjoyment) and never on very hot days. We finally had a day where the heat was down and the boys (my dogs) had been inside for many days so I put them out… one Pomeranian (6 yrs old) and one Pekingese (2 1/2 yrs old). After being outside about 30 to 45 minutes I went to check on them and noticed the Pek was panting heavily, so I brought him inside and gave him more water. He drank it but I noticed he was very sluggish in his walking so I put him in a cool bath. He layed in it and I poured the water over his back (still panting he was drinking the bath water). After awhile I took him out and wrapped him in a towel and brought him in the living room. I sat him down and he threw up all of the water he just drank, after cleaning it up I noticed he was very unresponsive so I picked him up and he began having seizures in my arms. I immediately called the vet and headed there (the vet told me it would take him almost an hour before he would be able to come to the office. I waited outside his office with my baby having seizure after seizure in my arms. Finally the vet showed up and began an IV and gave him several shots, he finally stopped seizing but honestly he didn’t look good (he had been this way for over an hour now). The vet said it was a waiting game and we would see in the morning… needless to say when I called at 7:30 AM they informed me I had lost my precious pekingese baby! I was devistated and have learned my lesson.. I no longer just put the dogs out, I stay with them the whole time and any signs of extended panting were gone! For awhile I would only let my dog go out to use the bathroom but I realized I couldnt keep him inside forever. No one should ever have to go through what I did… pay close attention, even with water they can get too hot. If your hot there 10 times hotter!

October 13, 2013 at 17:19

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