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Heat Stroke in Dogs

Gracie is staying cool this summer!

Heat stroke occurs in dogs when the core body temperature goes over 105.8 degrees F. (The normal canine body temperature is 98.5 to 102.5 degrees F.) Certain animals are at risk for heat stroke. These include brachycephalic breeds (dogs with squished - in noses) like Pugs, Shih Tzu, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese and Boxers. Working dogs , canine athletes , overweight dogs and dogs with respiratory diseases also are at risk for heat stroke.

Heat stroke occurs when dogs are exposed to high temperatures and humidity, or with intense physical exertion. Dogs cannot sweat like people. Dogs reduce their body temperature through panting and sweating through their foot pads. It becomes very difficult for them to cool off in high heat and high humidity.

In the hot, humid weather be careful when you walk or exercise your dog. Limit strenuous activity to early in the morning or late at night. Bring water along for your dog on walks or runs. Stay in shady areas if possible. Be certain to acclimate your dog gradually to exercise in the heat. Also use caution when walking sensitive paws on the hot blacktop. Test the blacktop with the back of your hand. If it is too hot for your hand it is too hot for your dog to walk on. Avoid walking on blacktop, or have your pet wear doggie boots.

I'm sure we all realize how HOT cars can get in the hot, humid weather. On a 75 degree F day the inside of a car can reach 94 degrees F in 10 minutes, and 109 degrees F in 30 minutes (even with the windows cracked open). NEVER leave your dog in the car during hot, humid weather (even for a short period of time) . If you notice a dog trapped in a hot car call the police and try to locate the owner. The police can break open the car window to rescue the dog. Be safe and leave your dog at home when running errands during hot weather.

The high core body temperature caused by heat stroke will cause problems in almost every organ system in the body. It can affect the brain, kidneys, stomach, intestinal tract and blood clotting system.

Symptoms of heat stroke include intense panting, stumbling, mental dullness, acting drunk, seizures, coma, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea or vomit, and red blotches on the gums (petechial hemorrhages).

Cool the dog down with cool water (NOT ICE WATER). Avoid using ice water because it can actually slow the cooling process by constricting the blood vessels, or damage the skin. Place towels soaked in cool water on the animals neck, arm pits and groin. Move them to a cool area. Place a fan in front of them. Apply rubbing alcohol to their foot pads. Cool them down quickly then take them to the Vet immediately.

Dogs with heat stroke need IV fluid therapy, stomach protecting drugs, broad spectrum antibiotics and may need a blood transfusion if they have a clotting disorder. Aggressive, intensive therapy is often needed because heat stroke patients are often critically ill and are at high risk for death.

Questions? Call us at (630) 859-0471 or Email us at

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