Heat Stroke

What is Heat Stroke?

Hyperthermia, or heat stroke, as it is commonly referred to is a term used for severe overheating and an increase in temperature above the normal range for a canine which can lead to health issues.

How can my pet get heatstroke?

Any activity which can cause an excess of overheating such as walking, running and agility training can lead to hyperthermia, however the most common reason patients are admitted for treatment is due to owners leaving their pets in hot cars or yards without shaded areas.

Symptoms:

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive  salivation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blueish or brick red gums
  • Dizziness and stumbling
  • Seizure
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death.

Prevention:

  • Provide plenty of water in the warmer months and increase the areas of access
  • Provide plenty of shaded areas in the backyard
  • Avoid walking your pet between the hours of 9am-3pm
  • Provide some stimulating activities such as shell pools filled with water or ice
  • Provide shade for dogs that travel in ute trays
  • NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG LOCKED IN A HOT CAR.

First aid:

  • Immerse pet in cool water (ensure the water is not cold or icy)
  • If possible check temperature and heart rate
  • For transport wrap your pet in a wet towel
  • Transport to the closest veterinary clinic as soon as possible and inform them of the situation prior to arrival
  • NEVER FORCE YOUR PET TO DRINK WATER.

What treatment will my pet receive at the vet?

Once your pet reaches the veterinary clinic, a nurse of veterinarian will check the vital signs including temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate. The patient will have an intravenous catheter placed into its forelimb and intravenous fluids will be administered to lower the patient’s temperature and rehydrate. Some oxygen may be provided if required. Other methods of cooling may be used such as wet towels and air conditioning, once the patient is deemed stable by a veterinarian a nurse will continue to monitor your pets temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate to ensure firstly, the patient is stable and secondly, the patient is not being cooled down to much which can cause hypothermia. Depending on the severity of heat stroke your patient may be discharged within a few hours, other patients may need to be kept hospitalised for a period of time deemed suitable by the veterinarian.

Written by Jessica Albertson, Veterinary Nurse 

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