The San Diego Off Leash Meetup Message Board › Heatstroke in dogs

Heatstroke in dogs

A former member
Post #: 5
This was on one of my agility lists and I thougt it was a great subject for this group, especially while hiking in the Summertime.


Thought this was timely...

This is from another list I'm on (permission to crosspost) and it
does address human-type gatorades.

Dog Heatstroke Survival Guide

Know how to treat and prevent this dangerous condition.

Robert Newman

What is heatstroke?

In simple terms, heatstroke occurs when a dog loses its natural ability to
regulate its body temperature. Dogs don't sweat all over their bodies the
way humans do. Canine body temperature is primarily regulated through
respiration (i.e., panting). If a dog's respiratory tract cannot evacuate
heat quickly enough, heatstroke can occur.

To know whether or not your dog is suffering from heatstroke (as
opposed to merely heat exposure), it's important to know the signs of

A dog's normal resting temperature is about 100.5 to 102.5 degrees
Fahrenheit. Once a dog's temperature rises above 105 degrees, physiological
changes start to take place, and the dog begins to experience the effects of
heatstroke. At 106 to 108 degrees, the dog begins to suffer irreversible
damage to the kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, heart and brain.

If a dog is experiencing heatstroke, you may observe excessive panting;
hyperventilation; increased salivation; dry gums that become pale, grayish
and tacky; rapid or erratic pulse; weakness; confusion; inattention;
vomiting; diarrhea; and possible rectal bleeding. If the dog continues to
overheat, breathing efforts become slowed or absent, and finally, seizures
or coma can occur.

The amount of damage a dog sustains when stricken with heatstroke
depends on the magnitude and duration of the exposure. The longer and
more severe the exposure, the worse the damage will be.

What to do

1. Pay attention to your dog. Recognizing the symptoms of heatstroke and
responding quickly is essential for the best possible outcome.

2. Get into the shade. If you think your dog is suffering from heatstroke,
move it into a shaded area and out of direct sunlight. Apply cool water to
the inner thighs and stomach of the dog, where there's a higher
concentration of relatively superficial, large blood vessels. Apply cool
water to the foot pads, as well.

3. Use running water. A faucet or hose is the best way to wet down your
dog's body. Never submerge your dog in water, such as in a pool or tub -
this could cool the dog too rapidly, leading to further complications,
including cardiac arrest and bloating.

4. Use cool - not cold - water. Many people make the mistake of using cold
water or ice to cool the dog. When faced with a dog suffering from
heatstroke, remember that the goal is to cool the dog. Using ice or
extremely cold water is actually counterproductive to this process because
ice and cold water cause the blood vessels to constrict, which slows blood
flow, thus slowing the cooling process.

5. Don't cover the dog. One of the keys to successfully cooling your dog
is ensuring the water being placed on the dog can evaporate. Never cover an
overheated dog with a wet towel or blanket. This inhibits evaporation and
creates a sauna effect around your dog's body. Likewise, don't wet the dog
down and put it into an enclosed area, such as a kennel. Any air flow during
the cooling process is helpful in reducing the dog's body temperature.
Sitting with the wet dog in a running car with the air conditioner blowing
is an ideal cooling situation.

6. Keep the dog moving. It's important to try to encourage your dog to
stand or walk slowly as it cools down. This is because the circulating blood
tends to pool in certain areas if the dog is lying down, thus preventing the
cooled blood from circulating back to the core.

7. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of water. Cooling the dog is the
first priority. Hydration is the next. Don't allow the dog to gulp water.
Instead, offer small amounts of water that's cool, but not cold. If the dog
drinks too much water too rapidly, it could lead to vomiting or bloat.

8. Avoid giving human performance drinks. Performance beverages designed
for humans are not recommended because they are not formulated with the
canine's physiology in mind. If you can't get an overheated dog to drink
water, try offering chicken- or beef-based broths.

See a veterinarian

Once your dog's temperature begins to drop, cease the cooling efforts and
bring the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your dog's temperature
should be allowed to slowly return to normal once cooling has begun. A dog
that's cooled too quickly may become hypothermic.

Even if your dog appears to be fully recovered, the veterinarian needs to
check to determine if the heatstroke caused any damage to your dog's
kidneys and liver. The effects of heatstroke can continue for 48 to
72 hours longer, even if your dog appears normal.

William Grant, DVM, a veterinarian for 20 years and former president of the
Southern California Veterinary Medical Association, has treated hundreds of
cases of heatstroke, ranging from mild to fatal.

According to Grant, the most common cause of death following heatstroke is
disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (blood coagulating throughout the
body), or DIC, which can occur hours or days after the heatstroke episode.

DIC can also be caused by pyometra or septicemia, but Grant says
heatstroke is the most common cause. "Once a dog develops DIC, it may
bleed in the thorax, abdomen, nose and intestine," Grant says. "Once
the blood-clotting factors are consumed, there is an inability of the
blood vessels to prevent leaking; the condition is almost always
fatal." For this reason, follow-up veterinary care is essential
following a heatstroke episode, even if your dog seems to be completely

Prevention is the best medicine

The best treatment for heatstroke is prevention. Especially during the
summer months, it's essential to be aware of the potential for heatstroke.
Knowing the signs of heatstroke, and taking the necessary steps to prevent
it, will ensure your dog can have a safe and active life year-round.

Group Organizer
Imperial Beach, CA
Post #: 422
Very good post Rhonda. I think a link to this should be included in all the summer hikes. Also keep in mind that it's a lot hotter down at dog level. During the snake training, the trainers used a "thermometer gun" that measured both the ambient and surface temperature. Even though the air temp was maybe 75, the ground temp was over 100. So aside from differences in the ability to cool, what feels comfortable at our level may be intolerably hot at dog level. Also (just like humans) very young and old dogs don't do as well regulating their core temperature.
A former member
Post #: 7
Nathan yes! In fact on Sunday Chris and I hiked up in Warner Springs on the PCT along the Aqua Caliente Creek, lots of creek crossings and a really early start made for a very pleasant hike, until the last stretch coming back, we were walking along and Wyatt was behind me and I looked down to see him very much in distress, I picked him up and said we needed to get him to the creek, we took a detour and he and Huck and Lucy all laid in the creek for about 20 minutes, he was way over heated and it scared me, he did get his body temp back down pretty quickly thank goodness, but it made me realize how careful we really need to be when hiking in the Summer, even when there are water sources for them to cool off in, he had been wet, playing in the water and in fact when I picked him up his tummy was still wet, so we need to be really aware of the temps for our dogs.
Group Organizer
Imperial Beach, CA
Post #: 426
My new pup Snicker has a very dark, seal brown coat. I think she'll do a bit better as she gets older, but for now she is really impacted by the heat. I'm wondering if anyone in the group has had experience with dog cooling vests. I checked Amazon, and they have a couple of different models, but they don't cool the belly, though they're relatively cheap at under $40--mixed reviews. Theres a brand called Chilly Dogs that does, which the military uses, but it's $135, which I might pay except for the fact that she's gonna outgrow it. How about something like a wet white t-shirt in the interim? I'm finding I hate to hike without at least one dog, so with Ash laid up, Nessa too old and Snicker too young and heat prone, I'm starting to get portly.
San Diego, CA
Post #: 74
Petco has a new line of harnesses and clothing from LuvGear that has a censor on it to tell you when your dog is over heating. Mila has one and it really works.
user 2744859
San Diego, CA
Post #: 255
Just a reminder that it's hot out there and even though you may ok with the heat it's usually much hotter down where you dog is walking. Start early, finish early when it's hot.
It's very sad that this stuff continues to happen but very glad that the CDF was willing to rescue the couple's dog.
A former member
Post #: 52
Just a reminder.

Aaron M.
user 15061371
San Diego, CA
Post #: 2
My dog is a 90 pound black lab mix. Because he is black he tends to overheat pretty quick. I found that putting one of my old white t shirts on him reflects the sunlight and keeps him a bit cooler especially if I keep it wet.
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