Hot Situations: Heat Strokes

0 Comments Posted by tcahvet in Videos and More on Friday, June 12th, 2015.

During the summer we need to keep an extra close eye on our fury friends. Especially for those of us that live in the city where heat is an issue. Heat strokes are a form of non-fever hyperthermia that occurs when the body cannot accommodate excessive external heat, leading to many organ dysfunctions.

There are two types of hyperthermia: fever and non-fever. Fever hyperthermia results from inflammation in the body caused by things such as bacterial infection. Non-fever hyperthermia results from excessive exercise, excessive levels of thyroid hormones in the body, and lesions in the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that regulates body temperature.)

Non-fever hyperthermia can affect any breed, but is more frequent in long-haired dogs  and short-nosed, flat-faced dogs (Bull Dogs, Pugs.)
Symptoms and Types

Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
Increased body temperature – above 103° F (39° C)
Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
Sudden kidney failure
Rapid heart rate
Irregular heart beats
cardiopulmonary arrest
Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress
Blood-clotting disorder(s)
Vomiting blood (hematemesis)
Passage of blood in the bowel movement or stool
Death of liver cells
Changes in mental status
Muscle tremors
Wobbly, uncoordinated
Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened


Excessive environmental heat and humidity (may be due to weather conditions, such as a hot day, or to being enclosed in an unventilated room, car, or grooming dryer cage)
Upper airway disease that inhibits breathing; the upper airway (also known as the upper respiratory tract) includes the nose, nasal passages, throat (pharynx), and windpipe (trachea)
Underlying disease that increases likelihood of developing hyperthermia, such as paralysis of the voice box or larynx; heart and/or blood vessel disease; nervous system and/or muscular disease; previous history of heat-related disease
Poisoning; some poisonous compounds, such as strychnine and slug and snail bait, can lead to seizures, which can cause an abnormal increase in body temperature
Anesthesia complications
Excessive exercise

Risk Factors

Previous history of heat-related disease
Age extremes (very young, very old)
Heat intolerance due to poor acclimatization to the environment (such as a heavy coated dog in a hot geographical location)
Poor heart/lung conditioning
Underlying heart/lung disease
Increased levels of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism)
Short-nosed, flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds
Thick hair coat
Dehydration, insufficient water intake, restricted access to water


Early recognition of  heat stroke symptoms is key to recovery. If it is in relation to  environmental temperature, such as weather, an enclosed room, or exercise, the first immediate step will be to attempt to lower the body temperature.

Some external cooling techniques include spraying the dog down with cool water, or immersing the dog’s entire body in cool – not cold – water; wrapping the dog in cool, wet towels, soaking the pets feet in isopropyl alcohol. Avoid dropping below normal body temperature.It is very important to avoid ice or very cold water.

Dogs that have suffered an episode of hyperthermia are prone to experiencing it again. Know how to cool your dog properly, and talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate procedures for maintaining proper body temperature and lowering it in the safest way possible.

If your dog is older, or is a brachycephalic breed that is prone to overheating, avoid taking your dog out during the hottest times of day, or leaving the dog in places that can become too hot for your dog, like a garage, sunny room, sunny yard, or car. Never leave your dog in a parked car, even for only a few minutes, as a closed car becomes dangerously hot very rapidly. Always have water accessible to your dog; on hot days you might even add ice blocks for your dog to lick.

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