Heat stroke can cause brain damage in dogs and even death in a short time.
All dogs can suffer from heat stroke, but the following types of dogs are at greater risks:
But how does heat stroke occur?
Living cells have temperature tolerant limits, and if the temperature goes beyond the limits, the cells break down, cease to function and eventually die.
In dogs, the cells break down at around 106.7°F (41.5°C). While we can regulate our body temperature by perspiration, our dogs cannot. They just mainly lose water through their mouths. That's why when they are hot, dogs pant.
When a dog is confined to a small space with high temperature and humidity (such as in a car on a hot summer day), the dog's body will begin to acquire heat from the environment far quicker than its ability to dissipate the heat.
On a hot summer day, if a dog is left in a parked car, even with the windows open, the temperature in the car can be as high as 160°F!
Within minutes, the dog's body temperature can rise rapidly under this condition to over 104°F, when he will start panting heavily. (A dog's normal body temperature is somewhere between 100.5°F and 101.5°F.)
If no action is being taken to cool him down, his body temperature can rise to a dangerous level (up to 106°F or higher), when heatstroke occurs and brain damage (sometimes death) may occur rapidly as well.
As mentioned above, dogs do not sweat like we do as they do not have as many sweat glands as we do. (The only few sweat glands that they have are on the pads of their feet and on their noses.)
The only mechanism for dogs to quickly reduce heat is panting. If a dog is overheated, the first sign is heavy panting.
Other warning signs of dog heat stroke tend to follow a progression from mild to severe, as follows:
If your dog has been out in the heat, and is showing signs of heat stroke, it is advisable to take the dog to the veterinarian without delay.
Heatstroke in dogs is an emergency. Immediate veterinary care is best but time is also critical, since brain damage can occur in a matter of a few minutes.
If your dog shows signs of heat stroke, immediately start cooling down your dog.
Rapid cooling is essential. Use a garden hose, for example, to splash some water on the overheated dog.
Do not, however, cool her down by using ice water or even very cold water. This may worsen the problem because the cold water may cause the surface blood vessels to constrict, reducing the heat transfer out of the body.
Also, extremely cold water can cause the dog to shiver which in turn can dramatically increase body heat - the very last thing we want to happen!
Be sure also to let her drink some water to avoid dehydration. Move her to a cool place if possible. If you are inside, turn on the air-conditioner or fan to help bring down your dog's body temperature.
If your dog's body temperature is around 103°F, continue to monitor her condition and bring down her temperature. Then take her to the vet as soon as possible to make sure that no internal damage has occurred.
If, however, your dog's body temperature is over 105°F, immediately after wetting the dog completely with cool water and spraying cool water on her neck and groin, take her to the emergency veterinary clinic.
After you have sprayed cold water on your dog's body to cool her down, you can continue to bring her body temperature down by using peppermint cold compresses - peppermint has a cooling effect:
To prevent your dog from getting heat stroke, keep in mind the following:
This amazing cooling vest has three layers to maximize cooling effects:
If you live in a hot place with an active dog who enjoys the outdoors, this cooling vest is a must!