HEAT STROKE! WHAT IS IT? PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Written by our guest blogger Kristina Jordanovska, Veterinary Student/Writer/Photographer
edited by Natalia Dolidze, Managing Director of Pets Habitat LLC
Heat stroke is a very common condition in dogs during the summer period or in places where the temperatures are high and it is humid. In UAE it can happen very often because of the climate. But before we explain how to prevent it or to teach you about first aid if it happens, we need to find out what really is a heat stroke.
Heat stroke, what’s that?
While people have a pretty good thermoregulation system, dogs really don’t. They are built to conserve energy, rather than release heat. So, because of that they have the tendency to heat up a lot faster than people. For example, hyperthermia is a condition in which the body temperature is increased above normal range and it can be fever or non-fever hyperthermia. Fever hyperthermia is usually as a result of some inflammation. Whereas, heat stroke is the condition of non-fever hyperthermia, when the thermoregulation system of the body cannot accommodate to the excessive surrounding heat. Also, heat stroke can be caused because of excessive levels of thyroid hormones or lesions in the hypothalamus- the center for body temperature regulation. Body temperature of over 41°C is typical for heat stroke, with no signs of some kind of inflammation. It is really important to know that this condition is very serious! So serious that it can lead to multiple organ dysfunction. Most common breeds that suffer from heat strokes are long haired dogs, brachycephalic or short-nosed, flat-faced breeds.
How to recognize heat stroke? What are the symptoms?
The symptoms are mostly the same for non-fever hyperthermia or heat stroke and fever hyperthermia. The most important ones are the following:
– Excessive drooling.
– Increased body temperature (over 40°C).
– Rapid heart rate.
– Irregular heart beat.
– Changes in mental status.
– Reddened gums and mucosa.
What can lead to heat stroke? Causes?
While the most probable reason for heat stroke is very high air temperature and humidity, there are several more reasons that can put your pet in this serious condition. For example:
– Upper respiratory tract diseases, which can inhibit normal breathing and thermoregulation.
– Anesthesia complications.
– Extreme exercise.
– Primary diseases like heart/ blood diseases, nervous system diseases, paralysis of the voice box or larynx.
– Poisonous compounds, such as strychnine and others.
There are several things you should know about how to prevent heat stroke. First of all, your dog should have access to fresh water at all times, whether it plays outside or inside. Next, make sure if your dog spends some time outside, to have access to shade at all times. For dogs with predisposing conditions such as heart disease, breathing problems, or elderly dogs you should know that they should be kept out of the sun, in the shade and to avoid extensive physical activity. This also goes for obese dogs.
- Never ever leave your pet in the car! Even if you’re gone just for few minutes, a car parked in the sun or even in the shade on any day in UAE, can become an oven trap for your pet and cause heat stroke!
- Even if your dog is healthy, avoid taking it jogging with you, or taking it for long walks when it is a very hot day.
- Don’t muzzle your dog on extremely hot days! This prevents your dog to ventilate properly, which obstructs thermoregulation.
- You should avoid the beach, places with only asphalt/concrete and sand. In these kind of places the heat is reflected and there probably isn’t any shade.
- Let your dog swim or cool it down by wetting it with water! This can help in maintaining a normal body temperature.
- Always keep your air conditioning on when you are out of the house at least in one room which your pet has access to in order to cool down.
Most important, you should use common sense in preventing heat stroke. Just imagine how it would be like for you to wear few layers of clothes in a hot and humid day…
- Remove your dog from the heat! Put it in a cooler area, if possible an air conditioned place.
- Cool you dog down with water! Try watering your dog, but be careful not to use freezing water, because that can cause problems too.
- Give your dog water to drink! However, don’t push it, maybe it is not in a state to drink by itself. Also, the water should be cool or room temperature, not freezing cold.
- Take your pet to the emergency veterinarian! After all, if you are not a professional, you need to take your dog to the vet for checkup and even for some IV if the vet suspects dehydration.
- Do not cover your dog! When you use wet towels to cool your dog down, don’t cover it with them, just let it lay on top of them. Covering your dog only worseness the situation because it holds the heat.
Now you know the most important things about heat stroke, and how to prevent it or treat it if it happens. Have you ever had experience like this? How did you manage it? Share your stories, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org