Heat Stroke: How to Treat Heat Stroke in Dogs/Cats

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

What is heat stroke -

Heat Stroke is the result of drastic rising in temperature that is difficult for an animal to breath in. Unlike humans who are able to sweat when they are feeling hot. Animal's eliminate heat from their bodies by panting. Panting allows animals to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes away the heat from their body. When panting isn’t enough, the animal's body temperature rises resulting in heatstroke (which can become fatal).

What causes heat stroke in animals -

Any hot environment can cause heat stroke in your dog or cat. The most common cause of heat stroke is due to careless action by the pet owner. Dogs often suffer heat stroke when they are left in a car. Did you know that on an 83-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 100 degrees within ten minutes. After thirty minutes, the temperature will be 118 degrees. Cats often suffer heat stroke when they are not provided with shaded shelter and water during their outings. Keep in mind some animals are more prone to heat stroke than others, for example animals with:

  • Thick fur;

  • Short noses;

  • Suffering medical conditions;

  • Very young or old;

  • Over exercised on hot and humid days.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke -

  • Excessive panting;

  • Bright red tongue, mouth;

  • Drooling or thick/sticky saliva;

  • Vomiting;

  • Diarrhea;

  • Lethargy;

  • Restlessness;

  • Glazed eyes;

  • Rapid heartbeat;

  • Seizure;

  • Rectal temperature above 105ºF (normal temperature should be 103ºF).

Treating Heat Exhaustion -

  1. Move your animal to a safe, shady environment to prevent injuries and further heat absorption;

  2. Offer small amounts of water (a couple licks of an ice-cube);

  3. Check rectal temperature with a digital thermometer rather than glass (Use plenty of lube, saliva will do if lube is not readily available);

  4. If the animal has a temperature of 104°F or less continue to give them small but frequent amounts of water;

  5. If the animal has a temperature of 104°F or higher they are most likely suffering from heat stroke and should be monitored closely for the next 24 hours (Veterinary evaluation will be necessary if you do not see progress in their behavior).

Treating Heat Stroke -

  1. Move animal into safe, shady environment to prevent injuries and further heat absorption;

  2. Put a cool, wet towel or blanket underneath them;

  3. Offer small but frequent amounts of water (you don't want the water to be too cold, or for the animal to drink to fast);

  4. Take note of the time (this will be helpful for when you arrive at the vet to prevent performing prolonged first aid treatment);

  5. Measure rectal temperature with a digital thermometer and plenty of lube;

  6. If the the temperature is above 104°F, begin cooling by spraying cool (NOT cold) water over their body;

  7. Stop cooling once the temperature is 103.5°F;

  8. Take note of when the cooling was stopped and what the temperature was at that moment;

  9. Dry the animal off slightly to prevent excessive cooling;

  10. Call the closest veterinary and let them know you are on your way for evaluation and care.

Prevention Tips -

  • Whip up a batch of DIY pupsicles;

  • Always provide plenty of water (indoors and outdoors);

  • Wipe your animal with cool towel;

  • Give your animal a cool bath.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT pour water into the animal's mouth or force them to drink, Do NOT use extremely cold water or ice packs, Do NOT submerge them in water, Do NOT cool them off to fast, Do NOT skip the trip to the vet (temperatures can spike again, and there may be damage to internal organs).

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