Pets and heatstroke: Watch for the signs

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Teva Stone, DVM, is Practice Owner and Veterinarian at Wellington Veterinary Hospital

By Teva Stone
Wellington Veterinary Hospital

With very warm August temps, it is important to be aware of heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when an animal’s body temperature goes over 104ºF. Usually this occurs when an animal can’t effectively dissipate heat due to a heavy coat, being overweight, high temperatures, and being exercised in these extreme temperatures.

The best thing to do is to avoid heat stroke all together. However, if your pet is experiencing hyperthermia or heat stroke there are a few important things to remember.

  1. Remove your pet from the environment where this occurred to a cool or shaded area.
  2. Never, ever use ice to cool your dog. This causes the blood vessels to constrict in the extremities resulting in this hot blood moving back into the body.
  3. Wet your dog with cool water, then get them up and walk them around. This allows evaporative cooling. A fan can be placed directed towards your pet as well to help.
  4. Continue to monitor rectal temperature and stop cooling your pet when their body temperature reaches 102.5-103ºF. It is important not to overcool your pet.
  5. Offer your pet water but don’t force any into their mouth.
  6. Get your pet to your veterinarian as soon as possible as they will continue to monitor and support your pet through IV fluids and other medical care as needed.

Named by AAHA as Practice of the Year in 2012, Wellington Veterinary Hospital takes responsibility for care of your pets seriously.