Heatstroke (Hyperthermia)
Tiffany Cain, BS
Zoologist, Veterinary Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.

(And some additional info from Chief's Brittanys follows article)

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Heatstroke occurs when normal body mechanisms cannot keep the body's temperature in a safe range. Animals don't have efficient cooling systems (like humans who sweat) and get overheated easily. A dog with moderate heatstroke (body temperature from 104º to 106ºF) can recover within an hour if given prompt first aid. Severe heatstroke (body temperature over 106ºF) can be deadly and immediate veterinary assistance is needed.


A dog suffering from heatstroke will display several signs: a bright red tongue, red or pale gums; thick, sticky saliva; rapid panting; weakness, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and shock.

What You Should Do

For severe heatstroke, transport your dog to the veterinarian immediately. If you are more than five minutes from the veterinary hospital and your dog is conscious, lower his temperature to at least 106ºF before going to the hospital. Use a hose, shower, or tub full of cold water to wet down your dog. Keep him watered down with cool water until his temperature drops. Check their temperature every ten minutes and stop the cooling process once his temperature reaches 103ºF.

For moderate heatstroke, water down your dog and move him into a cool environment. Give him a children's rehydration fluid or water.

What Your Veterinarian Will Do

Your veterinarian will lower your dog's body temperature to a safe range (if you haven't already) and continually monitor his temperature. Your dog will be given fluids, monitored for shock, respiratory distress, kidney failure, and other complications.


Dogs with moderate heatstroke often recover without complicating health problems. Severe heatstroke can cause organ damage that might need ongoing care such as a special diet prescribed by your veterinarian. Dogs who suffer from heatstroke once increase their risk for getting it again and steps must be taken to prevent it on hot, humid days: Do not leave your pet in the car, muzzle him, confine him without shade, or confine him to concrete or asphalt surfaces. Restrict exercise, provide constant access to water, and keep pets with breathing problems indoors.

© 2001 Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
Reprinted as a courtesy and with permission from PetEducation.com (http://www.PetEducation.com)
On-line store at http://www.DrsFosterSmith.com
Free pet supply catalog: 1-800-323-4208

Additional Info from Chief's Brittanys

Hot weather hunting with your dog, such as dove hunting, requires some planning.  All too often we rush through our mental checklist that simply reads, “Don’t forget Missy (the dog)”.  It’s very easy for a dog to get too hot and suffer from heat stroke so here are a few ideas.

We recommend a minimum of the following prevention steps:

1.      Several gallons of cold water kept in a large ice chest filled with ice.

2.      A large dog watering bowl with ‘anti-tip’ sides kept full of water from the ice chest available to your dog at all times.

3.      Offer Ice Cubes (for your dog to chew/eat) frequently.

4.      Shade!  Do not confine the dog to a plastic crate or dog box, especially in the sun.

5.      Dog snacks  (try this:  roll some raw hamburger into meatballs, make holes in the meatballs with your finger, add dollops of honey in the holes, close holes, place on wax paper, freeze.  This makes for an ice cold and tasty high-energy snack!

6.      If a medium or longhaired dog, a very close hair cut.

7.      First Aid kit for dogs and First Aid treatment manual for dogs.

8.      Keep the back half of your dogs’ head and entire neck soaking wet with cool water after each exercise session (hunting, each retrieve).

9.      If you’ve got access to a lot of water, wet the ground where your dog is lying down as in dove hunting.  Your dog will sprawl out and cool it’s belly if you do this.

10.  If there is a nearby pond/tank, take frequent breaks and allow your dog to go for a swim.

11.  If you have a cell phone, program the local emergency veterinarian phone number for where you are hunting into it.  If no cell phone, write down the numbers and place in your wallet.

When it comes to your dogs health, remember this: When in doubt, get to the Vet!

Here's a couple great books to have:

Click for the Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook

Start with this book when beginning a dog book library!  This book has it all and is a wonderful reference book!

Click for the Field Guide: Dog First Aid Emergency Care for the Hunting, Working and Outdoor Dog

Sections on stapling and gluing wounds, releasing dogs caught in traps, examining your dog, and updated material throughout. Other problems in the field, such as snakebites, poisoning, choking, gunshot wounds, cuts, eye and ear problems, broken bones, and more are covered in detail.

Your purchase of a book through these links helps us stay on the web.  Thank you!

Hope this bit of info helped you out.  Give your dog a biscuit for me!



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