Contributed by: Tana Graveline, LVT, VTS (ECC), Emergency & Critical Care Specialty Technician

Summer time and warm weather in the pacific northwest, makes us want to get outside and enjoy the day, often with our furry four legged friends. It is important to remember that as much as we want our dogs with us, it is not always safe for them to go everywhere with us. Dogs are not able to control their body temperature by sweating as we do. Panting is their primary way of regulating body temperature and overheating can happen quickly despite our best efforts to help them keep cool.

Heat stroke is a common term used for hyperthermia or elevated body temperature. If a pet’s temperature reaches over 103 degrees F (39.4 degrees C) it is considered hyperthermic. Without previous signs of illness, body temperatures above 106 degrees F (41 degrees C) are often referred to as heat stroke, due to excessive external or environmental heat exposure. Temperatures greater than 106 degrees F can lead to grave illness and possible death.

Symptoms of Heatstroke

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dehydration
  • Bright red gum color
  • Decreased urine production
  • Rapid heart rate

Ways to decrease chance of Heatstroke

  • NEVER leave your dog in an unattended vehicle- even on a moderate 70- degree day a car can become like a hot oven very quickly. Even with windows cracked is can reach up to 110 degrees F inside.
  • Provide plenty of fresh, cool drinking water
  • Avoid exercising your dog in the midday heat
  • Limit length of exercise times
  • Avoid exercising your dog on hot pavement
  • Frequent rest periods in the shade

Hyperthermia is an immediate medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated timely and correctly. Safe, controlled reduction of body temperature is priority.

What to do if you suspect your dog has Heatstroke

  • Soak your dog’s fur and skin with tepid, (not cold) water
  • Soak towels in tepid,(not cold) water and cover your dog with them
  • Place a fan on them or turn the air conditioner in the car on high
  • Get your dog in the car and drive to a veterinary hospital or clinic for immediate assessment