Heat stroke in dogs: Symptoms, how to act and how to avoid it


A dog panting a lot can suffer a heat stroke, a dangerous collapse that in serious cases causes the death of one in three animals

  • Author: By EVA SAN MARTÍN
  • Last update: August 25, 2016

Heat stroke is dangerous for dogs. It implies a sudden rise in body temperature that can cause a collapse and, consequently, the death of the animal. And the data from a veterinary study corroborate it: one in three dogs suffering from heat stroke dies. So, How to know if a dog suffers a heat stroke? The gasp of excessive can anticipate it. But How is it possible to help the dog that has it? How to prevent it? These answers are answered below.

Why are dogs so vulnerable to heat stroke?

The heat stroke in dogs is not a joke: between 36% and 50% of animals that suffer a sudden rise in their body temperature dies, according to an extensive study coordinated by veterinarian Lisa Powell of the University of Minnesota ( USA.). The high summer temperatures and the difficulty of the dogs to sweat and lose excess temperature explain why it is so important to know when the animal suffers a heat stroke, how to help and how to protect it.

Dogs they don't have sweat glands spread all over the body, as we do have humans. They are less and, in addition, they have them concentrated mainly in the pads of their legs. What happens when the animal's body temperature exceeds 39 ° C? Well, the tongue, through panting, is your best way to cool. Here is detailed how dogs sweat.

Heat stroke in dogs, symptoms

So the gasp It may be the first warning of a heat stroke, since excessive breathing of dogs can anticipate it. "A healthy dog ​​inhales air at a rate of between 10 and 30 inhalations per minute," concludes an investigation in the scientific publication Webmd. But, sometimes, the rhythm of your breathing accelerates, a symptom that warns that you are in trouble. This is what happens during the heat stroke. The danger grows for dogs that stay in cars, so you never have to leave an animal alone in a vehicle.

In addition to excessive panting, you have to be attentive to other guidelines to detect in time a heat stroke in the animal: the hot flash accompanied by drool. When a gasp is added a excess slime is a bad sign. It is then advisable to take the dog to a cool and airy place, offer it water, cover it with a wet and cold towel and go immediately to the veterinarian.

Heat stroke in dogs manifests itself with other symptoms that help recognize it: dizziness, feeling that the animal is sick, breathing hard and panting loudly and loudly. Also, a dog in danger because of the heat can't walk, loses balance, suffers tachycardia and will have its congested mucous membranes. The vomiting and diarrhea They are other signs and, on some occasions, you will have a breakdown or loss of consciousness.

The flat dogs or brachycephalic breeds, such as bulldog or carlino They are even less efficient in reducing their temperature. Therefore, those who live with them should control their furry friends after walks, especially during the summer, when the risk of collapse increases.

Heat stroke in dogs, what to do?

Once the dog enters this dangerous phase, we must act quickly. If you wait for the vet to arrive it may be late, since your life is in danger.

You have to stabilize before going to the consultation. The first step is lower your body temperature as soon as possible. To achieve this, the furry friend must be placed in the shade, in a cool place. The next step is wet your body with cold water, look for ice to place it on the head and abdomen and offer you water So drink, little by little.

Meanwhile, it is very important have another person call the vet to warn you of the urgency and that someone from the clinic can move to the site or give guidelines.

An effective method to further reduce the body's temperature is to soak it with alcohol, as this liquid has a specific heat less than water (almost half). This means that it takes less time to evaporate when capturing the excess temperature of the animal, which helps it lose heat faster.

Once this is achieved, and with the emergency veterinarian's telephone control, you have to go to the clinic.

When your dog is most likely to suffer a heat stroke

Between the most frequent situations to suffer a stroker, are:

  • Leave the dog locked in a car on a hot day.
  • Exercise a lot with hot and humid weather.
  • Be brachycephalic. These dogs are more prone to heat stroke, especially the Bulldog, the Pekingese or the Pug.
  • Suffering from a heart or lung disease that affects respiratory efficiency.
  • Wear a muzzle while using a hair dryer.
  • Suffer from high fever or seizures.
  • Stay locked on surfaces with cement or asphalt.
  • Have a previous history of heat stroke.

Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs

The heat stroke starts with a jaccused adeo and respiratory difficulties. The tongue and mucous membranes become colored Intense red and saliva is thick and consistent. Often, the dog comes to barf. Your rectal temperature rises to 40 ° C or higher and you may suffer from bloody diarrhea.

If shock occurs, the lips and mucous membranes turn gray and collapse, convulsions, coma and even death occur, so it is essential to act quickly.

Heat stroke treatment in a dog

The treatment of a dog suffering from heat stroke should begin immediately. The first thing you should do is cool the dog. Remove it from the heat source and if possible, take it to a building that has air conditioning. Take your rectal temperature every 10 minutes. If it is a mild case, surely respond to the transfer to a cool environment.

Yes rectal temperature exceeds 40 ° C, spray it with a hose or immerse it in cold water for two minutes. Once wet, if possible, place the dog in front of an electric fan or a fresh air source. Do not forget to control your rectal temperature and repeat this process until it is below 39.4ºC. Once this temperature is reached, it is important to stop the cooling process and dry the dog. Otherwise, I could suffer hypothermia or a shock.

After the heat stroke episode, even if the dog reacts, take it to the vet as soon as possible, since heat stroke is frequently associated with Laryngeal edema, an inflammation of the larynx and vocal cords that can cause a narrowing of the airways or complete obstruction, and may require an emergency tracheotomy. A cortisone injection before the onset of respiratory disorders can prevent this from happening.

Other complications of heat stroke, which may arise hours or even days later, are: renal failure, spontaneous hemorrhage, cardiac arrhythmias and seizures.

How to prevent heat stroke in dogs

  • If your dog suffers from respiratory problems, it is better to have it indoors during periods of intense heat and humidity.
  • Never leave your dog in the car with the windows closed, even if you have it parked in the shade.
  • When traveling by car, make sure your dog is well ventilated.
  • Limit exercise in hot weather.
  • Provide shade and fresh water to your dog when it is outdoors, especially if it is tied in a shed or on cement or asphalt ground.

What to do if my dog ​​suffers a shock from heat stroke

If the heat stroke is complicated, your dog could suffer a shock, which is caused by insufficient blood flow. Because of this, the heart does not effectively pump a sufficient volume of blood to maintain circulation and tension.

If your dog is in a state of shock, his cardiovascular system will try to compensate for the lack of oxygen and blood flow by increasing the heart and respiratory rhythms. This implies a supplementary energy requirement at a time when vital organs do not have the necessary amount of oxygen, which can lead your dog to death.

In the early phases of shock, the dog gasps, breathes rapidly, drools and suffers from tachycardia. Your pulse accelerates and the mucous membranes of the lips, gums and tongue become congested.

In state of advanced shock, the skin and mucous membranes turn pale, the body temperature drops and the respiratory rate becomes slow. The dog shows apathy, unconsciousness and lack of pulse.

The first thing you should do When your dog suffers a shock, it is to check if the dog breathes and has a heartbeat. If you do not breathe, practice artificial respiration (it is convenient to learn how to do it). If you do not have a heartbeat, combine artificial respiration with cardiac massage.

If the dog is unconsciousMake sure your airways are open and clean the secretions of the mouth with your fingers and a piece of cloth. Pull the tip of the tongue forward beyond the incisors to facilitate breathing and keep your head lower than your body with blankets or cushions. Take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

My dog ​​has seizures. Can they be due to heat stroke?

A heat stroke can also cause seizures, which are caused by a sudden electric shock in the brain, usually in one of the hemispheres, and can spread to other areas.

The seizure is usually preceded by a altered behavior period during which the dog may be restless and anxious, groan and seek affection or isolation. The truly convulsion It lasts a couple of minutes and is characterized by collapse with rigid leg extension. The dog stops breathing for a few seconds and then there is rhythmic shaking of the legs. If the dog is in a dangerous place, move it to a safe place, otherwise, do not disturb it during the seizure or after. Despite what the popular belief dictates, never you must put nothing in his mouth or stick his tongue out.

Write down the duration of the seizure and tell your veterinarian. If the seizures last more than five minutes, they are urgent cases.

A lot of eye with the heat stroke

Heat stroke is a real risk that we must take into account if we are going to do any outdoor activity with our dog in summer. Its consequences can be fatal if we do not detect it in time, or if we have not been prevented and the situation comes to us in the middle of nowhere without a shadow or drop of water with which to act.

Please read this article carefully and always keep it in mind when you walk with your dog on hot days to avoid a situation that can trigger something horrible and dramatic.

What is heat stroke in a dog

Heat stroke is a serious disorder that occurs in a dog when it fails to expel more heat than it generates or absorbs, exceeding its body temperature and affecting the central nervous system.

Dogs do not perspire like humans, but do so only through the mouth making its temperature self-regulation much more difficult, since they are cooled only by breathing and gasping. This is why dogs are said to be much more prone to heat stroke than humans.

A heat stroke can kill our dog in just 15 minutes.

Prevent heat stroke

The three most determining factors that influence the development of this disorder are:

  • Physical exercise Increases the production of body heat.
  • High ambient temperature It decreases the ability of our dog to expel heat to the outside and therefore this is going to accumulate in his body.
  • Dehydration Decrease heat loss.

Considering these factors we easily understand that there is a situation that we must avoid above all: The exhaustion of our dog at high temperatures and without water to act. There are no excuses, this situation should never occur.

We must also take special care with certain breeds, such as the boxer, carlinos, bulldogs, and any brachyceous type dog, that is, with a short or flat snout.

If you can not avoid walking during the hottest hours (which we strongly advise you) and finally you get the heat (we talk about more than 25ВєC of room temperature) on a walk, you must keep the following precautions:

  • The most important thing, It has a lot, a lot, a lot of water. Your dog will drink much more than usual, and always keep a good amount to cool him in case of heat stroke. Read more about hydration of the dog during the activity.
  • Do not lose sight of him and control his status at all times.
  • If he is a hill madman, do not hesitate: put him down. Some dogs are a bit unconscious and can start running without stopping until they cause their own collapse.
  • Stop each shadow, however small, wait for a more or less normal breath (to stop panting) and offer water to drink.

  • I refresh my neck and head regularly but without wasting water, very precious, depending on where you will not find it in kilometers.
  • Do not miss any river, ditch or similar in which your dog can take a good dip, will leave you as new.
  • Suddenly it begins to wallow against straws, plants and strange things for no reason? Give it away, it is probably because they are quite cooler than room temperature and even retain some moisture.
  • The symptoms of a heat stroke that you can detect in order from least to greatest severity are:

    • Difficult breathing and excessive gasping
    • Lack of strength, they refuse to walk
    • Cramps, muscle tremors
    • Bluish coloration of skin caused by poor oxygenation of the blood
    • Dizziness, they wobble when walking
    • Vomiting
    • Loss of knowledge or comma in the most serious cases.

    The first is to try lower the temperature as soon as possible. If you only have the first two symptoms, Quickly look for a shadow, offer water if you can drink, and say scale slowly until it stabilizes and returns to normal breathing.

    If you have a nearby water point (river, fountain, ditch, or whatever you can think of), go slowly to avoid a shock due to the difference in degrees. First the legs, then refreshes head and neck, and when he has resumed his breathing, BÃЎГ ± alo to be espabile but never suddenly.

    If the symptoms or the situation are more serious (there are no water points or shadows) do anything you can think of to lower the temperature, for example you can soak a shirt in water that you wear and apply it as a damp cloth in the neck and head, and if the thing gets ugly Do not hesitate to use your mobile phone and call any taxi or help you can think of (for example to the shelter last night they know you and is nearby) to come to pick you up by car and take you immediately to a veterinary clinic.

    Symptoms of heat stroke alarm

    How to know if your pet is suffering from heat stroke? Dogs with this disorder have the following symptoms:

    • Body temperature raised above 42ВєC - the normal is above 38ВєC and 39ВєC.
    • Increase in heart beat Y breathing Very fast and expensive.
    • Cyanosis: The skin acquires a bluish tone derived from a lack of oxygenation of the blood.
    • I wobble, muscle tremors, considerable decay of their forces.
    • Body loss of sugar and salts.
    • Petechiae: Small red spots of blood on the skin.
    • Renal and hepatic impairment.
    • Hemorrhages
    • Gastrointestinal cerebral edema
    • Multi-organ failure

    If you notice that your dog suffers any of these symptoms you can try to apply the first aid, but you need to take it to the doctor as soon as possible because urgent veterinary care.

    How to act in a heat stroke

    A case of heat stroke requires immediate action so we should not hesitate to take it to the veterinarian before the slightest suspicion. If this were not possible, we should focus on make your temperature drop below 42ВєC. We can refresh it with a bit of Water not very cold because it produces vasoconstriction and makes you lose less heat. We can also put a plastic bag with crushed ice on the head or give it ice cubes so that, sucking them, it recovers a little water. It is important to give drink water regularly to prevent our pet from becoming dehydrated.

    Although the animal has lowered the temperature, they are still not out of danger as their internal organs may be damaged. Therefore, we must take the veterinarian so that some blood test Tell us if your body works properly.

    How NOT to act in a heat stroke

    There are actions that we should avoid in these cases:

    • We must not wrap or cover the animal with towels Because the heat remains instead of going out.
    • Do not use completely icy water to lower the temperature because we can cause damage to the brain.
    • If we have already achieved that the animal drops below 42ВєC, it is not necessary to cool it more because we can cause it hypothermia.