Heat Strokes in Dogs

Heat stroke is an excessive elevation in body temperature that causes direct thermal injury to body tissues

  • Water Deprivation
  • Excessive Humidity
  • Obesity
  • Exercise
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Lack of Acclimatization

The elevated body temperature affects multiple organs. In heat stroke, dogs often present with temperatures greater than 106F, have extreme panting and hypersalivation, and the mucous membranes are often dark. The animal is generally shocky, may have diarrhea and/or vomiting, and is often unresponsive or comatose.

The longer the temperature is elevated, the worse the damage. Once you've determined the animal has heat stroke, spray or immerse in cold water, and get veterinary help.

Keep the windows down in the car on the way to the veterinary clinic. Putting ice on animals is not recommended as this constricts the blood vessels, which impedes the heat loss.

Massaging the animal is thought to improve blood flow and thus help cooling. It is not recommended that you cool the animal below 103F as further passive cooling will occur and animals often become hypothermic.

Brachycephalic breeds like bulldogs, dogs with upper airway diseases, and those with laryngeal paralysis have difficulty dissipating heat and are very susceptible to developing heat stroke.

Often animals with heat stroke require aggressive treatment and monitoring for prolonged periods.