Keep your pup safe this summer – signs of heatstroke and hyperthermia in dogs
Summer is finally here. The season of sunbathing, swimming and hiking; of going to the beach and holidays. Summer is a lovely season. Dogs also enjoy this time of year, because they get to spend a lot of time in the outdoors. While this is good fun, sometimes problems can occur.
During the hottest days, some of our furry friends might suffer from hyperthermia, if we are not careful. Therefore, in order to keep them safe, in this article, we are going present the signs of this condition and the actions that you should take.
What is hyperthermia?
Hyperthermia is the elevation of the body’s temperature above its generally accepted normal range. While the normal values for dogs might differ from breed to breed, it is universally accepted that body temperature that exceeds 103° F (or 39° C) is abnormal. Hyperthermia can be categorized as either fever or non-fever.
Fever hyperthermia is caused by an inflammation in the body. Just like when our tonsils get swollen and ache, the fever usually occurs secondary to a bacterial infection.
However, non-fever hyperthermia is the result of other causes that increase the temperature of the organism, like the incapacity of the body to cool during extremely hot days, or during excessive exercise. Even some hormonal unbalances or a lesion of the hypothalamus can generate non-fever hyperthermia.
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke is a form of non-fever hyperthermia that occurs when the heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body can’t accommodate the excessive external heat. In dogs, heat stroke is associated with temperatures that exceed 106° F (41° C) and it represents a very serious condition because it can lead to multiple organ dysfunctions.
What are the signs of non-fever hyperthermia that can result in heat stroke?
- Drooling excessively
- Red gums and other moist tissue of the body
- Low or no production of urine
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heartbeats
- Blood in bowel movements and vomit
- Black stool
- Wobbly movement (like a drunk person)
- Inability to stimulate the pup, no matter what we do
As you can see for yourself, non-fever hyperthermia can present many symptoms, which need to be taken very seriously. If not, the hyperthermia will result in heat stroke, which will eventually cause the stoppage of the heart and breathing (otherwise known as a cardiopulmonary arrest), or even a stroke.
While non-fever hyperthermia and heat stroke can occur to all type of dogs, it is more frequent in long-haired dogs and in brachycephalic breeds (dogs that have a short nose and a flat face). It can happen at any age, but younger dogs have a predisposition for it. Probably because older pups know when to stop running and hide in the shade.
Please watch out for all the signs that were presented earlier and go to a veterinarian every time you see that something’s wrong with your four-legged friend.