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Heat Stroke in Pets

Heat stroke is common in humans and animals, especially in dogs; once a dog's body temperature exceeds 104 degrees, heat stroke occurs.

Heat stroke is common in humans and animals, especially in dogs; once a dog's body temperature exceeds 104 degrees, heat stroke occurs.

Thousands of dogs suffer from heat stroke each year. Although heat stroke can take hours before it becomes deadly, some extreme cases can lead to death in as little as 20 to 30 minutes, if not given proper medical attention.

What are the symptoms?

This may come in many forms, some as subtle as turning the wrong direction when called, to eating out of only one side of their bowl. In more extreme cases, your dog may collapse and become unresponsive.

If the stroke is as apparent or is left untreated because the signs are too subtle to notice at first, they may become lethargic and/or lose bowel control. If your well-trained dog suddenly starts urinating in the house or while they are walking around, it probably isn’t their fault. So don’t make assumptions that they have suddenly decided indoors is their new potty. This may be as a result of the brain not getting enough oxygen to ensure proper motor skills and dexterity.


Treatment for heat stroke must not be delayed. If the heat stroke is mild, moving the dog to an air-conditioned building will be helpful. Take the dog's rectal temperature. If it is still above 104 degrees, cool down the dog by spraying him with a hose or putting him in a cool tub of water for several minutes. After he is completely wet, place him in front of a fan. Continue with the process until the dog's temperature reaches 103 degrees. At that time, dry off the dog and discontinue the cooling process. Cooling down a dog too quickly can cause it to get hypothermia or go into shock.

If the dog does not respond to the cool-down methods, emergency care is needed. Take the dog to the vet as soon as possible. The vets will do several things to get the temperature to drop. They will administer IV fluids and electrolytes. They will also give your dog additional oxygen, if needed. There are no special medications that can treat heat stroke, but some medications may be used to prevent the complications of heat stroke.

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