Heat stroke in dogs - Symptoms, What to do and Treatment

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The heat stroke in dogs It is considered a serious veterinary emergency, as it can endanger the life of the animal. It usually appears in summer, when the environmental temperature is very high, however, it can also occur in confinement situations, if we leave the animal inside a car or when the individual does not have access to clean, fresh water at all times. In some cases, heatstroke can cause death if not treated promptly and properly.

Therefore, in this AnimalWised article we will talk in detail about heat stroke in dogs, explaining what the most common symptoms are., what to do before a heat stroke and the treatment that the veterinarian of emergencies, already at the veterinary clinic.

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  1. Hyperthermia in dogs
  2. Risk factors for heat stroke in dogs
  3. Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs
  4. How to deal with heat stroke in dogs?
  5. Diagnosis of heat stroke in dogs
  6. Treatment of heat stroke in dogs
  7. How to avoid heat stroke in dogs?

Hyperthermia in dogs

To begin with, we must know the term "hyperthermia ", which refers to a elevated body temperature, above normal values. It can have different causes, such as the one we are dealing with in this article, heat stroke, but it can also be considered the secondary symptomatology of very diverse pathologies, such as viral diseases or infectious processes.

Hyperthermia in response to a disease, technically known as pyrogenic hypertemia, It is considered a defense mechanism of the body and is commonly known as "dog fever". It is important to note that in these cases we should never self-medicate or lower the temperature without a veterinary prescription..

In the case of heat stroke we talk about non-pyrogenic hyperthermia. In this case, it is necessary to carry out an active cooling of the animal, without the consequences for the organism that we could cause in the previous case.

But, ¿how to know if our dog has hyperthermia? The dog's body temperature is between 38 ºC and 39 ºC, exceeded this range, above 41 ºC, We consider that the dog suffers from hyperthermia and we would find ourselves facing a veterinary emergency. Remember that the only effective way to take a dog's temperature is by means of a thermometer, never through your nose or with other homemade "tricks".

Risk factors for heat stroke in dogs

Yes OK any dog ​​is susceptible to heat stroke, Yes, there are some risk factors that are worth knowing, especially among dog guardians, with the aim of being able to prevent it as much as possible:

  • Brachycephalic dog syndrome: It is a common condition in various dog breeds, such as the English bulldog, the Shar Pei or the Boxer among others. Causes shortness of breath, airway obstruction, and can even lead to collapse.
  • Heart diseases- Heart failure or heart murmur are some of the heart conditions that can cause severe symptoms in the face of heat or intense exercise, such as coughing, tiredness, and fainting..
  • Overweight and obesity: excess weight has a negative impact on the health of dogs that suffer from it, favoring the degeneration of the joints or the appearance of heat stroke, among others.
  • Laryngeal paralysis: This pathology, which can be hereditary and affects mostly elderly dogs, can become very serious, impacting their quality of life and can even cause severe respiratory distress. Coughing, exercise intolerance, and changes in barking can be seen. It can be controlled with medication in mild cases, but in others surgery is required to allow a good quality of life for the dog.
  • Tracheal collapse: we are talking about a chronic and irreversible disease, which consists of a narrowing of the trachea, which causes coughing, shortness of breath, fainting and hissing sounds. Surgical control can be performed, although the main measures are weight loss, the use of medication and even sedation..

But as we have already told you, despite the fact that there are risk factors, any dog ​​can experience heat stroke when faced with it. intense exercise, the lack of hydration or the excessive heat. Visits to the beach or pool, as well as walks during the hottest hours of the day, can favor the onset of heat stroke in the dog..

Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs

As you have seen, there are several reasons that can cause an excessive increase in the dog's body temperature, however, you probably want to know how to detect heat stroke in dogs, with the aim of acting quickly. This will help you prevent some of the most serious consequences, such as irreversible damage to organs and even the death of the animal..

Thus, the signs of heat stroke in dogs most common are:

  • Accelerated breathing
  • Constant gasps
  • High temperature
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Bluetongue
  • Red tongue
  • Uncoordination
  • Wobbles
  • Weakening
  • Profuse salivation
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shock
  • Inability to move
  • Death

Now that you know what heatstroke in dogs is and its symptoms, it is convenient to learn what first aid is for heatstroke in dogs, keep reading.

How to deal with heat stroke in dogs?

You should know that it is relatively easy for heat stroke to die in dogs, therefore, it is essential that at the slightest sign of heat stroke in dogs we know what to do. Here we show you the step by step to follow:

  1. We move the dog to a cool place, away from the sun. We can even place a fan at low power to refresh it gradually.
  2. We will apply fresh water cloths (not cold or icy) on the belly, head, neck, legs and chest. In no case should the animal be covered or bathed.
  3. We will moisten your mouth with a spray regularly.
  4. We will take your temperature until it drops above 39ºC or until the dog shows slight improvement.
  5. We will visit the vet to ensure good health and rule out any serious damage to your body.

Before the appearance of heat stroke in dogs, you already know how to act. However, it will be essential that you go to the vet, even when the symptoms have subsided, we explain why in the following sections.

Diagnosis of heat stroke in dogs

Already in the veterinary clinic, the specialist will observe the state of health of the dog to perform a diagnosis. To do this, pay attention to the Clinical signs, including shock, collapse, tachypnea, and signs of coagulopathy. Tachycardia, hyperemia, and aortic regurgitation are also common..

Regarding the CNS signs we found mild ataxia, seizures and even a possible coma. But in addition, it is possible that serious damage to the intestinal system is also included, such as severe, bloody diarrhea.

Treatment of heat stroke in dogs

The specialist will talk about heat stroke in dogs and its treatment, based mainly on cooling the dog. It will begin by making a active cooling, avoiding the use of ice, as it can damage the skin, in addition to causing stress and anxiety in the dog. Gastric lavage is not recommended either, since there may be a high risk of aspiration, thus worsening the condition..

It can be necessary paten the airways of the dog, through intubation, and even performing an emergency tracheostomy. Another important aspect is the fluid therapy, since thanks to the administration of intravenous fluids they improve blood flow and help balance the losses of the body.

In some cases, it will also be administered medication, such as antibiotics, antiemetics, intestinal protectants, osmotic diuretics and other drugs that the specialist deems appropriate taking into account the picture presented by the dog. In the most severe cases, when ventricular arrhythmias occur, cardiac support with lidocaine will be performed.

Once the vet has explained how to treat heat stroke in dogs and has applied the appropriate measures, it is likely that he will suggest the dog hospitalization. During this time, constant monitoring will be carried out to ensure that the dog's vital signs are correct, but his blood pressure will also be analyzed..

When the dog arrives in a very serious condition and has several compromised organs, a multi-organ dysfunction syndrome (MOOS), also known as multi-organ failure, which can be fatal.

Depending on the state of the dog and its evolution the forecast it can be favorable or reserved. But in addition, we must remember that heat stroke in dogs can cause sequelae, such as brain damage and or alterations in the CNS. The veterinarian will help us to warn of these possible damages and will explain to us what care the dog will require.

How to avoid heat stroke in dogs?

Now that you know about heat stroke in dogs and its consequences, it is essential to review the prevention measures that we can apply in our day to day, especially in summer or when temperatures are very high.

¿How to avoid heat stroke in dogs? Take note:

  • We will ensure that, at all times, our dog has fresh and clean water.
  • We will avoid at all times leaving the dog in a carrier or car without supervision. Let us remember that in this type of space, temperatures can rise alarmingly and suddenly.
  • We will continue our active routine during coolest hours of the day, as far as sport is concerned, but also on walks, especially with elderly dogs, puppies, sick dogs or during the bitch's pregnancy. Remember that in these stages they are more vulnerable.
  • We can value acquiring a cooling pad or cloth, very useful during the summer and on excursions respectively, but in addition, we will always make sure that the dog can take refuge in a shady area, regardless of where we are.

These are some tips on heat stroke in dogs and its prevention, however, it may be necessary consult with the vet in the case of having a puppy dog, elderly or with a specific health problem. The specialist will offer guidelines to ensure a good quality of life for our dog, as well as extra tricks for day to day.

If you have been interested in this article and want to work as a professional in the animal health sector, do not hesitate to train with it VETFORMATION Veterinary Assistant course, where you will learn everything related to first aid and the treatment that a dog requires in the face of heat stroke and many other circumstances. Let yourself be advised by one of the leaders in training blended and online from all over Spain.

This article is merely informative, at AnimalWised.com we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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