With the weather getting warmer, we're leaving the house with our dogs more. You may have seen dogs running in severe heat or dogs sitting in cars lately. We've asked Dr. Amy Goldstein, from the Emergency and Critical Care Department to tell us more about heatstroke in dogs and how to prevent it. Is your dog more at risk because of his breed?
Photo Credit: http://heat-exhaustion-symptoms.blogspot.com/2011/07/heat-stroke-can-cause-death-to-your-dog.html
Heat stroke starts when the body temperature goes above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The normal temperature for a dog is 100.5 to 102.5. When the body temperature goes above 109 degrees animals can develop organ failure and death.
Causes of heat stroke
The temperature in a parked car can go up to 160 degrees in the summer even with open windows. Exercise on very hot days can also lead to heat stroke. The main way that dogs dissipate heat is through panting. This is easily overwhelmed on hot days.
At risk breeds
Any dog can develop heat stroke when they are outside in extreme heat or they are shut in a car. Puppies, overweight dogs, dogs with other illnesses, dogs with heart disease, dogs with a thick hair coat and older pets are at a higher risk. Dogs such as pugs that have a short muzzle are much more likely to develop heat stroke.
The first sign of heat stroke is excessive panting. Their gums may become bright red. As their temperature continues to increase they will become weak and they can collapse. Some dogs will develop vomiting. When the temperature gets high enough you may notice red dots on their skin or gums. These are small areas of hemorrhage.
What to do
If you are concerned about heat stroke you should immediately bring your pet to a veterinarian. On the way you can cool your pet with wet towels or room temperature water.
What to expect at the vet
Once your pet’s temperature is taken and heat stroke is confirmed they will be cooled with a bath and intravenous fluids. Blood work will be performed to check your pet’s organ function. Most dogs with heat stroke will need to be hospitalized and they may need very intensive care depending on the extent of the organ damage.
If you or someone you know believes that their animal is in need of immediate medical attention, please call VESCONE at 781.684.8387. We are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.