The Truth About Heat Stroke


We have all heard the term "Heat Stroke" but do we really know what it is? What causes heat stroke and what are the signs? Can my pet dog get it? How is it prevented and what do I do if it occurs?


Heat stroke occurs when the dog's core body temperature reaches 106⁰ F and is the result of environmental exposure and there is no other reason for hyperthermia. Heat stroke can cause damage on a cellular level, organ damage or unfortunately, death.

Is My Dog More Susceptible to Heat Stroke?

Although any dog can suffer from heat stroke, there are some dogs that are more susceptible to suffering from it.

Puppies, elderly and overweight dogs are more likely to suffer the effects of heat stroke as well as short nose dogs. Also, dogs with thick or dark colored coats as well as those dogs who suffer from certain medical conditions such as thyroid or pulmonary conditions or Larygeal Paralysis (LP).

What Causes Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke occurs as a result of over exposure to the environment and an increased core body temperature to 106⁰ F. Generally this occurs when a dog is playing or training outdoors for too long of a time without a break or a chance for the body to cool down and rest. It can also occur due to exposure to heat with no way to cool itself such as being left in a vehicle, even when it is under 65-70⁰ outside.

Many dogs, while playing or training outside, will reach a core body temperature of 104⁰ or slightly above, but the key is that the body temperature returns to normal within 30 minutes or less. Dogs can only cool themselves by panting or sweating through their nose and pads so they have a much more difficult time cooling themselves that we as humans do. Therefore it's very important to watch for the signs that heat stroke may be occurring or, better yet, prevent it from occurring altogether!

What Are The Signs?

  • Restlessness

  • Agitation

  • Excessive Panting

  • Excessive Salivation

  • Dry Mouth

  • Bright Red Gums or Ears

  • Pale/Gray Gums

  • Vomiting

  • Anxiousness / Whining

  • Dizziness /Collapse

  • Labored Breathing

  • Seizures

How Can I Prevent It?

  • Keep your dog safely hydrated;

  • Monitor outside temp / humidity;

  • Acclimate slowly while training or playing;

  • Take regular breaks in a cool location when training or playing;

  • Watch for early signs; ]

  • Do a proper cool down routine after you are done training or playing - don't just put your dog right back in the car!

Know what is normal for your dog.

What is the normal temperature of your dog?

What is the normal color of her gums?

Know what is normal so you know what is abnormal!

What Should I Do?

Don't Wait! Get your dog to the Vet!

While on your way, call your vet to let them know you are coming and why! Use towels or cloths wet with cool water on the dog's groin, paws and neck to help reduce the core body temperature until you can get to the vet. Allow your dog to drink cool water.

What if there's not a Vet nearby? Get your dog into a cooler area - inside air conditioning if possible. Apply cool (NOT COLD) water to their head, neck, pads and groin area. Ice cold water can shrink the blood vessels and make it harder for your dog to cool down fast. Give your dog water to drink, keep air flowing around them with a fan and continue to take their temperature until below 103⁰ F. Talk to your vet for more information!

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