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Heatstroke In Dogs

01- Heatstroke in Dogs

In a spectrum of heat-related illnesses, heatstroke is the most severe condition and a fatal syndrome that is caused by a high core body temperature, where intrinsic and extrinsic heat production exceeds the body’s capacity for heat dissipation. The term heat stroke refers to hyperthermia or elevated body temperature in dogs, which can be incredibly dangerous if they become overheated.

A dog’s normal body temperature typically ranges between 38 and 39 °C (100.4 and 102.2 °F), however, it may go up slightly if they are sick or have a fever. The body temperature of your dog should not exceed 40C (104F), otherwise, they will suffer heatstroke, which can include seizures, organ damage, bleeding internally, and even death.

Are heat exhaustion and heat stroke the same thing?

There are several forms of hyperthermia. The severity of each dog’s condition varies, depending on the situation at hand.

Heat Exhaustion

It is a more serious kind of heat illness. It is characterized by a marked increase in thirst, overall weakness, and vigorous panting. Individuals may also be physically immovable or collapse due to exhaustion or weakness, even while they are conscious.

Heat Stroke

Hyperthermia of the most serious kind is heat stroke. When your pet’s temperature of your pet rises to 41.1 degrees or above, it happens. When the body temperature reaches this level, organ and neurological failure develop. The proteins that serve as the building blocks of every and every cell in the body dissolve when their temperature exceeds 43 degrees or higher. The failure of these systems cannot be identified, but exposure to heat for extended periods will cause major organ dysfunctions and increase the chance of fatality.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke in dogs

The signs and symptoms of heat stroke in dogs might vary, but they always proceed rapidly, get worse, and sometimes even result in death.
These are some of the early symptoms of heat stroke in dogs:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Restlessness
  •  Experiencing difficulty breathing
  • Gum bruising
  • Lethargy (low energy)
  • Unusual gum color

Symptoms get more severe as the illness increases, dog will face the following conditions in severity:

  •  Vomiting (with or without blood)
  •  Tachycardia
  •  Disorientation/stumbling
  • Muscles trembling
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Cause of heatstroke in dogs

A wide range of factors and conditions can be linked to causing heat stroke as dogs may sweat to a certain extent, and on hot days, they seek for shade to keep cool. They are mainly around environmental conditions that include: Elevated temperatures, dehydration, extreme humidity, inadequate ventilation/airflow, and leaving pets in cars and opening the windows on a mild day can quickly result in high temperatures, etc.

Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke than others, and certain dogs have a higher chance of having it owing to various medical issues such as:

  • Morbidly obese and overweight dogs
  • Large-breed canines
  • Brachycephalic syndrome (known as short-nosed and flat-faced animals)
  • Heart problem
  • Pharyngeal paralysis
  • Obesity
  • Tracheal failure

How does heatstroke in dogs affect various bodily systems?

When the body temperature is between 41.5°C and 42°C, or between 106.7°F and 107.6°F, cytotoxicity occurs in the body where proteins and enzymes get denatured at high temperatures. As a function of both the degree of body temperature elevation and the duration of time the temperature is elevated, these effects vary in severity.

Multiple harmful consequences of heat exhaustion occur throughout the body including:

1. Heart Disease

The cardiac output and peripheral vasodilation increase over time when cytotoxicity owing to a high body temperature occurs. Venous blood pools and central vasodilation result in a reduction in circulating blood volume, hypotension, and shock when these protective strategies fail.

2. Gastrointestinal Abnormalities

The presence of Direct cytotoxicity in the body leads to the production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species and the stimulation of inflammatory cells that further damage the gastrointestinal tract and increased the permeability of the GI mucosa. It increases the bacteria and bacterial products, such as endotoxins, can travel to the heart causing further heart failure, shock, and death. 


  • Heat stroke is a serious condition that needs immediate attention, so if your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, follow these steps and get them to a vet as soon as possible.
  • To assist in increasing evaporative heat loss, provide continuous airflow across the dog.
  • Apply rubbing alcohol to the pads of the dog’s feet to dilate pores and increase perspiration, but do not use too much, as ingesting alcohol can be harmful.
  • Water will help evaporative cooling by lowering your dog’s body temperature. A fan blowing over damp skin will help in evaporative cooling but don’t wrap a wet towel around them because it will trap the heat.
  • Another way to reduce the warmth is to wet the surfaces around your dog.
  • Give cool water (not cold).

When does a veterinarian treat a dog with heatstroke?

After determining the extent of your pet’s heat stroke, the veterinarians will start any necessary emergency therapy. Some medications may also be used to treat brain enlargement and seizure activity, depending on the severity of your pet’s disease. The veterinary team will keep an eye on your dog’s mental state, temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and exertion while he is in the hospital. They may also run an ECG test. Repeated blood tests are probably necessary to track any changes and inform treatment. As needed, further care may consist of plasma transfusions, oxygen therapy, and/or anti-arrhythmic medicines, etc.

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