Heat stroke in animals and what to do - McDowell's Herbal Treatments

Heat stroke is a condition that results from excessively high body temperatures which leads to abnormalities in the animal's body that can lead to death. It is most common in pets left in locked cars with the windows up or to dogs left outside in the heat without water. It can also happen to dogs that are exercised during really hot weather...

stock setterdog SMLL

The higher the body temperature gets, and or the longer it stays elevated, the greater the risk of permanent injury or death. Rapid cooling reduces the risk of injury and death. Rapid cooling is now the accepted treatment (1). There is a greater risk of death and injury from not cooling quickly enough than hyperthermia. 

Signs of heat stroke

  • Rapid panting
  • Rapid and erratic heartbeat
  • Weakness or what is known as 'heat exhaustion'
  • Bright red tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Exhaustion
  • Diarrhea
  • Thick/sticky saliva

What to do about heat stroke

  • Move the animal to a cool area (tiles or cool cement)
  • Wet the animal down with cold water
  • Give small drinks of cold water
  • If possible keep the animal moving slowly
  • Take your animal to the vet as soon as its temperature starts to drop

Active cooling via Cold Water Immersion (CWI) is now the standard of care and should be done immediately. This is a Grade IA recommendation (2).

Puppies, kittens, dogs and cats with underlying medical problems and older pets are at most risk. Please do NOT leave your dog or cat in a parked car! Their body temperatures can rise quickly - even to 105 to 110 degrees fahrenheit.

At temperatures greater than 109F or 42C, failure of vital organs, and consequently death, can occur.

(1) Heat Related Illness: How to Cool ‘Em and What to Do After
2) Lipman GS, Eifling KP, Ellis MA, Gaudio FG, Otten EM, and Grissom CK. Wilderness Medical Society practice guidelines for the prevention and treatment of heat-related illness: 2014 update. Wild Environ Med 2014;25:S55-S65.

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McDowell's staff Herbalists can not diagnose your disease or illness. What they can do is offer a herbal program to assist with healing, after you have had advice from your doctor or specialist. If you have unexplained pain or symptoms, seek medical advice.

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