Heat stroke, AKA hyperthermia, is elevated body temperature. Generally, if your dog's body temperature is greater than 103°F, it could be classified as hyperthermic.
Along with that, if your dog's body temperature makes its way above 106°F with no signs of illness prior to the dramatic rise, this is usually caused by excessive exposure to heat. And this is what we generally refer to as, "heat stroke".
This is where things can get incredibly scary as typically, organs begin to fail and possible death can occur when body temps reach 107°F to 109°F.
What is the main cause of heath stroke?
Unfortunately, a lot of the time you will see heat stroke in dogs is when someone leaves their poor pup in the car. We've all been inside cars on hot days after turning them off when we've reached our destination. Temperatures inside the vehicle can rise FAST. Usually within just minutes.
Of course, this isn't the only way dogs can suffer from heath stroke. Other causes can include being left in the yard with little to no shade or water when the sun is blazing. Excessive exercise or playing in extremely hot temperatures, and even exposure to a hair dryer for too long a period of time can also be a factor.
It's also worth noting that dogs who already have restricted airways, like our flatter faced friends the pug or the bulldog, are at a heightened risk of suffering. These breeds can suffer even when temperatures are only slightly hotter than normal. Not only that, mimicking these breeds in a way when muzzling your dog can give the same potential risk.
Additionally, an infection causing fever, pyrexia, can too lead to heat stroke.
What are the signs of hyperthermia?
Pups suffering from heat stroke will exhibit elevated breathing rates, abnormal gum color, bruising gums, have dry or sticky gums, and could appear lethargic/disoriented. They may also suffer from seizures.
What do I do if my dog is suffering from heat stroke?
If you notice the signs of your dog possibly suffering from heat stroke, you need to get them immediate medical attention. Reducing their body heat in a safe way is a must. However, it is vital to know that when using water, make sure it is cool and not cold. Cool water can be poured over the stomach, feet, armpits, and head of your suffering dog. You may also use cool cloths instead. But if you go with the cloth method, make sure they are replaced very regularly as they can retain heat.
Also ensure that a continuous airflow is coming across your pup to help increase evaporative heat loss until they are given treatment at your veterinary hospital.
Your dog's temperature will be watched and treatment will stop when your pup begins showing signs of recovery or their body temperature has decreased to below 103°F.
This is an extremely dangerous matter, and something no pet owner should take lightly. Especially during the summer months, make sure to get your dog in cool places often if they are spending a lot of time outside. They may love the sun like our Scout, but if in the heat for too long, they can suffer unimaginable consequences.
Like anything, make sure to call your Vet and get their opinions on anything health and safety related for your dog. We may be dog parents who love their pups, but we are not experts. Please speak with your vet before proceeding.
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