The Arizona summer is here. Dogs that spend time outdoors are in danger of hyperthermia, commonly known as heat stroke. Hyperthermia occurs when your dog’s body temperature rises dangerously above normal (103°F), putting them in danger of multiple organ failure or death. Early recognition and treatment of heat stroke improves your pet’s chances of making a quick recovery.
While people can tell us when they aren’t feeling well, it’s a little harder for pets. We have to pay close attention to their behavior. Here are the signs and symptoms to watch for:
- Excessive drooling
- Reddened gums
- Reduced urine production
- Rapid/irregular heart rate
- Vomiting blood/ black, tarry stools
- Changes in mental status (ie, confusion)
- Seizures/muscle tremors
- Wobbly, uncoordinated/drunken gait or movement
- Unconsciousness / Cardiopulmonary Arrest (heart and breathing stop)
Panting is how dogs naturally cool themselves. Rapid, continual panting is a sign your pet is overheating and stressed. Bring them inside out of the heat, and call your vet to alert them of the situation. They can provide guidance for your next steps.
Next, take steps to gradually cool your pet down. Do NOT use ice or extremely cold water as it can cause shock and other undesirable reactions. Lightly spray your pet with cool water or wrap them in cool, wet towels and use a fan for convection cooling.
Evaporative cooling can also be achieved by swabbing isopropyl alcohol on foot pads, groin, and under the forelegs. When their temperature reaches 103° F, stop cooling to avoid dropping below normal body temperature, then seek veterinary care to be certain they’re out of danger.