A normal temperature for a dog is 101.5° F, give or take a degree. If a dog’s body temperature exceeds past 105° F, there aren’t any previous signs of illness, and the elevated body temperature stems from excessive external or environmental heat, we consider this to be heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate attention. Maryland is known for its humid and often stifling summers. Just as people do many things to protect themselves from the heat such as drinking water, finding shade, going out in the morning, or merely staying home in the AC when it’s way too hot, pets need protection. Today we’re going to talk about heat safety, the signs and symptoms of heatstroke, and its treatment.
Signs of Hyperthermia or Heatstroke
Your dog must receive treatment right away. Here are the common signs of hyperthermia:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Increased thirst
- Bright or dark red tongue/gums that then become pale
- A Temperature of 103° or higher
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Vomit or bloody diarrhea
- Depression stupor (your dog remains motionless for a long time and seems out of wack)
- Weakness or collapse
- Seizures or coma
The first step is, of course, to get your dog out of direct heat. Then, place cool, wet towels over your dog’s head, feet, neck, and abdomen, or on these areas. Alternatively, you can gently pour cool water along with the same areas. You can also turn on a cool fan and point it in your dog’s direction. Another step that you can take is rubbing Isopropyl alcohol (70%) on your dog’s footpads to help cool them down, but make sure not to use large amounts. Be careful not to overcool your dog! Do not use ice, extremely cold water, or frigidly cold air. If possible, keep monitoring your pet’s temperature using a rectal thermometer in the interim of implementing these techniques. Regardless of if the body temperature has decreased or not, you still need to bring your dog into us immediately! The effects of heatstroke can be widespread throughout the body. Merely lowering the body temperature does not address the other potentially lethal issues heatstroke can cause. Prompt veterinary care is always necessary for any pet that experiences heatstroke.
If you want to keep your canine companion safe from the stifling summer heat, we recommend that you not take these tips with a grain of salt:
- Never leave your dog in a hot, parked car even with the air blowing or the window down (Even if it’s only 70°F outside, a car’s temperature reaches 89°F within 10 minutes and 104°F within 30!)
- Never walk your dog in excessively hot weather; walk your dog when the sun isn’t at its peak (when you do walk your dog, bring enough water for you both!)
- Avoid walking your dog on hot asphalt (it can burn their paws)
- Always have fresh water and a cool, shaded spot available for your dog when outside
- Brachycephalic breeds (AKA “smushy face” dogs like pugs and bulldogs) are especially prone to heatstroke and should not be outside in warm weather for long periods
Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, We’ll Treat Your Pets Like Family!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!