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Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke

There are a lot of great things about living in South Florida: the beaches, the sunshine, being home to the 2012 NBA champions (just to name a few). But being a pet owner in this wonderful community also brings its own challenges. The dangers of heat stroke are often under estimated, and the consequences can be life threatening to our four legged family members.

How does Heat Stroke work in pets

Normally, a pet’s body temperature is regulated quite simply: a balance of heat gain and compensatory heat loss mechanisms. In your pet, these mechanisms include evaporation (almost entirely from panting as cats and dogs have very few sweat glands to assist in this compensation), conduction (dilation of the superficial blood vessels), and a pet’s ability to seek cooler environments. On very hot and humid days, these mechanisms of cooling can easily be overcome and a body temperature in excess of 104 F can quickly lead to life threatening complications.

Effects of Heat Stroke

Core temperatures of this magnitude affect most body systems including neurologic, gastrointestinal, liver and kidneys, and the lungs to name a few. If symptoms are caught early, pets have a good prognosis. Prolonged elevation of core temperatures can lead to multi-organ failure and even death in severe cases.

Signs of Heat Stroke in Pets

Signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, dry and bright red gums, altered mentation, extreme lethargy, and dark and tar like stools. Petechia (small superficial bruises) may develop as well. Temperatures can be taken in the axillary region (armpit) or rectally if you become concerned about any of these signs in your pet. Any temperature above 103.5 F in a dog with these clinical signs and a history of outdoor exposure or exercise is concerning and would warrant a veterinary visit. If rectal temperature if greater than 106 F, a cold water bath and environmental cooling (fan or AC) can be instituted during direct transport to a veterinarian.
By | 2018-05-23T03:43:36+00:00 June 12th, 2013|Sick Pet Resources|0 Comments

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