Canine hyperthermia, commonly referred to as heat stroke, is a life-threatening condition that occurs when your pooch becomes overheated, usually when outdoors for prolonged periods of time in the sun. Keeping your pup indoors during the hottest times of the day and providing him with lots of water can help prevent hyperthermia. During the summer months, watch Fido for symptoms of heat stroke to prevent a potential tragedy.
A dog's normal temperature is between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. When your pup's temperature reaches between 104 and 106 degrees, your pup is considered hyperthermic. Such a high temperature can result in organ damage or organ failure, resulting in death, warns PetMD. While some pups experience hyperthermia from a fever caused by a medical condition, most cases of hyperthermia result from excessive exercise in warm weather or a lack of shade, states VeterinaryPartner.com. Another major cause of hyperthermia is keeping your pup in a hot car on a warm, summer day -- even for a few minutes -- warns the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Behavior and Susceptibility
A dog suffering from canine hyperthermia may exhibit signs of overheating, including rapid panting, weakness, drooling, lethargy, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, fainting or collapse, according to the Doctors Foster and Smith website. If you notice these behaviors, immediately bring your pup indoors and provide him with a bowl of water to drink. While all dogs are susceptible to hyperthermia, elderly dogs, young puppies, thick-coated breeds and obese dogs are most likely to experience it if left for extended periods of time in warm temperatures above 70 degrees. Also at risk are brachycephalic breeds with short, pushed-in faces such as the pug, shih-tzu, Boston terrier, lhasa apso, bulldog, Pekingese or boxer.
A pup suffering from heat stroke needs immediate veterinary care to stabilize him and to monitor him for organ damage. On the way to the vet, provide your pup with water to drink and cover him in towels dampened with cool or room-temperature water to help keep his temperature from rising, recommends PetMD. Don't use cold or ice-water to cool your dog because this can actually cause serious medical issues by lowering his temperature too quickly, warns PetEducation.com. Your vet will take your pup's temperature and may give him intravenous fluids to help lower it and hydrate him. Note that pups with organ damage may require special veterinary diets for the rest of their lives and are more susceptible to heat stroke in the future.
During the summer months, keep outdoor exercise sessions with your pup shorter than usual. Supplement his activities by playing games like fetch or training him to perform tricks while indoors in a temperature-controlled environment. When outdoors, always provide your pup with a constant supply of cool, fresh water. Bring a doggie water bottle along on walks for frequent drinks along the way. Use a cooling dog bed and vest when outside or provide Fido with a kiddie pool filled with water to keep him cool. Dress your pup in booties before going on walks to keep his feet cool and protect them from burns on hot pavement. You can also bring along a personal, battery-powered fan to keep both you and your pooch comfortable outside.