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Heatstroke in Dogs: Spot The Signs


When Josh Spiert, canine care assistant at Acme Canine, noticed Rolo wasn’t behaving as he normally does he went to him to check on him.  He found Rolo panting excessively.  Josh told Autumn Guess, the trainer in charge, and they both brought Rolo inside.  Autumn took his temperature and couldn’t believe what it read, 107-degrees.  She took it again with the same results.

Being aware of the signs of overheating they took Rolo to the shower area and began a tepid water rinse over Rolo’s feet, neck and head.  Josh called mobile vet, Dr. Rose while Autumn cooled Rolo.


By the time Dr. Rose arrived, Rolo’s temperature had gone down 5 degrees.  Dr. Rose started an IV and gave Rolo steroids and anti nausea medicine.  Rolo’s owners were contacted and told what occurred.


Most dog owners know that heat stroke and heat exhaustion can occur in a greenhouse environment such as a car on a hot summer day, but it can also occur in dogs who overexert themselves in the heat. 


Dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans – they release heat primarily by panting and they sweat through the foot pads and nose. If a dog cannot effectively expel heat, the internal body temperature begins to rise. Once the dog's temperature reaches 106°, damage to the body's cellular system and organs may become irreversible.


When a dog is exposed to high temperatures, heat stroke or heat exhaustion can result. Heat stroke is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once the signs of heat stroke are detected, there is precious little time before serious damage – or even death – can occur.


Josh and Autumn knew the signs and were able to respond, and help save Rolo’s life as well as prevent damage to his body.


Dog owners should be aware that even with water and shade with the summer we have had this year extra care needs to be taken to make sure their dog doesn’t overheat; particularly dog owners with long or dark haired and dogs with smushed snouts.


Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

 The following signs may indicate heat stroke in a dog: •Increased rectal temperature (over 104° requires action, over 106° is a dire emergency)

 •Vigorous panting

•Dark red gums

•Tacky or dry mucus membranes (specifically the gums)

•Lying down and unwilling (or unable) to get up

•Collapse and/or loss of consciousness

•Thick saliva

•Dizziness or disorientation


What to do if You Suspect Your Dog Has Heat Stroke

 If you have even the slightest suspicion that your dog is suffering from heat stoke, you must take immediate action.

1. First, move your dog out of the heat and away from the sun right away.

2. Begin cooling your dog by placing cool, wet rags or washcloths on the body – especially the foot pads and around the head.

3. DO NOT use ice or very cold water! Extreme cold can cause the blood vessels to constrict, preventing the body's core from cooling and actually causing the internal temperature to further rise. In addition, over-cooling can cause hypothermia, introducing a host of new problems. When the body temperature reaches 103°, stop cooling.

4. Offer your dog cool water, but do not force water into your dog's mouth.

5. Call or visit your vet right away – even if your dog seems better. Internal damage might not be obvious to the naked eye, so an exam is necessary (and further testing may be recommended).

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