Understanding the Risks of Heat Stroke

dog is overheated

Heat stroke can happen in almost any sort of animal. Humans, cats, and dogs all suffer from it, and it can lead to multiple organ failure, suffering, and death. Knowing how to prevent is key, but knowing the warning size is also extremely important. Let's first look at just what it is, how it happens and then take some time to learn how to reduce and/or eliminate the risks of your dog dealing with heat stroke.

What is Heat Stroke?

Known as non-fever hyperthermia, according to PetMD, it "occurs when heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body cannot accommodate excessive external heat." In other words, it is when the body is unable to keep a healthy, stable and safe temperature due to the environmental conditions. Usually, a temperature above 106 degrees Fahrenheit is associated with heat stroke.

Excessive exercise is also seen as a cause or factor in heat stroke in dogs, as well as high levels of thyroid hormones and/or lesions in the dog's hypothalamus (a gland in the brain that controls bodily temperatures). One expert has said that "Non-fever hypothermia occurs most commonly in dogs (as opposed to cats). It can affect any breed but is more frequent in long-haired dogs and short-nosed, flat-faced dogs, also known as brachycephalic breeds. It can occur at any age but tends to affect young dogs more than old dogs."

What Causes It?

So, just what causes the dog to develop a bodily temperature so high it can lead to organ failure and death? Most of us know that a dog in a car on a hot day is a leading cause of death due to heat stroke. Many people are unaware of just how quickly the temperatures reach those deadly figures and how fast a dog can perish. Yet, it is not only hot cars that are guilty of causing dogs to suffer heat stroke and even die.  Exposure to excessive outdoor heat and humidity may lead to heat stroke as well as being locked in unventilated rooms during hot weather and also being exposed to high heat in a groomer's cage.

Experts also say that upper airway diseases, unknown diseases (including muscular or nervous system diseases), and consumption of certain poisons lead to heat stroke or hyperthermia, too.

What Can You Do?

Obviously, the number one way to prevent heat stroke in your dog is to keep them out of extreme heat. Do not tie up a dog anywhere without plenty of shade. Never leave them in a locked car; after all, in many states, it is now a crime. On an 85 degree day it requires only 10 minutes for a locked car to hit 102 degrees, and within 30 minutes it is over 120 degrees. Leaving windows open or cracked will not help, and your dog can go into heat stroke in less than 15 minutes.

Walk your dog in the early morning or in the late evening when the temperature has dropped. If you cannot accommodate this then you may want to invest in a dog cooling vest as well as a pair of dog boots to protect the paws from getting burned and over heating. Plenty of water breaks are also important during walks when the temperature is above 85 degrees.

Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting, glazed eyes, staggering, weakness, and drooling. If you suspect a dog is suffering heat stroke, try to get it into a climate controlled area and lower the temperature slowly. Lay cold water soaked towels on the belly (less fur there) and raise the temperature slowly as you call your Vet for further instruction. Source


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