Dr. Trail Discusses Heat Stroke: A Summer Killer

It happens far too often. A patient comes to the hospital because they are unresponsive. The owners say the dog was only outside for a few hours, but in hot weather it only takes a short time for the animal to be affected.

Heat Stroke is defined as an increase in core body temperature at or above 105 degree Fahrenheit which causes the body and internal organs to be damaged. The animal goes into shock and needs critical care to survive.

This problem happens more than you might imagine, and the cause can seem so innocent. A rise in ambient temperature can easily overheat the body temperature of our canine friends. Walks in the middle of a summer day, or rigorous exercise when a dog is not in shape may quickly spike the animals’ temperature. Health conditions, such as obesity, airway disease and heart disease may make it easier for a canine to succumb to heat shock. And even genetic traits in dogs like the bulldog and pug can create an emergency life or death situation.

Dogs cool themselves by panting. They do not sweat the way we do. They need a big wet tongue flapping in the breeze to lower core body temperature, and some situations make this cooling process impossible.

So do what you can to keep your pooch cool. Take your walks at dusk or dawn, get your pup a kiddy pool and never leave your dog outside in the heat or in the car. Have a safe and cool summer, and have fun with your furry family!

Jonathan Trail, DVM

Categories: Dog Care