Heat Stroke

Imagine not being able to shed your winter clothes on a hot summer day, and your only means of cooling off was by panting. Dogs and cats have little choice when it comes to summer heat. Quickly recognizing the signs of heat stroke will allow for prompt treatment, and time is of the essence when treating this condition.

  • Body temperatures of 40-43.3 Celsius
  • Increased heart and respiratory rates
  • Excessive panting and/or drooling
  • Dark or bright red tongue & gums
  • Sticky or dry tongue & gums
  • Ataxia (staggering, seeming off balance)
  • Weakness
  • Bloody diarrhea and/or vomiting.
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Short nosed breeds such as bulldogs and pugs, large/giant breed dogs (especially those with heavy coats) and dogs that have heart and/or respiratory issues are more at risk for developing heat stroke.

Remember that cats can get heat stroke too!

If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, please contact your veterinarian immediately!

In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to help:

  • Get your pet out of the heat immediately by finding shade. Ideally your pet should be placed in a cool, air conditioned area that’s away from the sun.
  • Put your pet in the tub with a few inches of cool water. Do NOT use ice water! This could cause constriction of the blood vessels and impede cooling. Do not leave your pet unattended.
  • Place cool, wet clothes around the head and feet.
  • Do not cool the body below 39.4 Celsius. Your pet could become hypothermic.
  • Offer ice cubes for your pet to lick or chew on but do not force food or water.

Just because your pet is cooled and “appears” okay, do not assume that everything is fine. It is still wise to have your veterinarian examine your pet to make sure there isn’t internal damage.

Remember that heat stroke is a very serious (perhaps even fatal) condition, so the sooner your pet receives the necessary medical treatment, the more likely your pet will make a full recovery.

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