Everything You Need to Know About Heat Strokes in Pets

Summer is a fun time for us and for our pets too! Unfortunately, in Texas, summertime comes with scorching temperatures that can put our pets at risk for a heat stroke. With temperatures soaring well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the extreme heat can be serious for our furry friends. Pet owners must prioritize their pet’s safety to ensure they can enjoy the summer while staying happy and healthy. That starts with understanding what pet heat strokes are, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.

In the Following Article, We’ll Cover the Below Topics:

  • What is a Heat Stroke?
  • What are Symptoms of Pet Heat Stroke?
  • What Pet Types are Most Likely to Develop Heat Stroke?
  • Can Cats Overheat?
  • What is Proper Pet Heat Stroke Treatment?
  • What is the Prognosis for Pet Heat Stroke?
  • How Can I Prevent a Dog Heat Stroke?

What is a Pet Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke is a life-threatening increase in body temperature caused by external environmental conditions. A pet heat stroke occurs when an animal’s body temperature rises dangerously high due to prolonged exposure to extreme heat. Factors such as high ambient temperatures, excessive exercise, lack of hydration, and being left in enclosed spaces contribute to heat stroke. Animals, like dogs and cats, are sensitive to extreme temperatures and can struggle to dissipate heat efficiently.


What are Symptoms of Pet Heat Stroke?

There is often a recent history of exposure to heat – physical exertion or playing outside for too long on  a hot day, or locked in a hot car. Early symptoms of heat stroke include excessive panting, drooling and restlessness. As they are exposed to the heat for longer, symptoms progress to weakness, stumbling or struggling to stand. At later stages we may see vomiting, diarrhea, shock, seizures and even death. Internally the body temperature rises to a point where it causes organ damage – there is swelling of the brain, heart muscle damage, and internal bleeding.


What Pet Types are Most Likely to Develop Heat Stroke?

Heat strokes are much more common in dogs than cats. The breed of dogs that are most susceptible to heat stroke are short-nosed dogs (brachycephalic breeds such as the bulldogs, Pugs, Frenchies) as they have a restricted airway, which does not allow them to pant efficiently to cool themselves down.

Other dogs that have an increased risk are those that are obese, have thick hair coats, or dogs that don’t know when to stop playing, even when tired (such as the Labrador).


Can Cats Overheat?

Heat stroke is rarely seen in cats, but it is still possible. Signs of heat stroke in cats are similar to those of dogs such as panting, restlessness, drooling in the early stages followed by vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and death. Never keep your cat in a hot car, garage, or enclosed area during the summer. Even on days that don’t seem hot, the temperature in the car can rise quickly.


What is Proper Heat Stroke Treatment?

If you suspect heat stroke at home, you should call us right away and bring your pet in to see us. Heat stroke can be life-threatening, so it’s wise to seek veterinary assistance promptly.

There are some things that you can do while transporting your pet to a hospital that can help start the cooling process before you arrive:

  • Offer them water to drink but do not force them to drink.
  • On your way to the hospital, run the A/C in the car and direct the vents at your pet.
  • Place cool, wet towels over neck, armpits, or groin areas.

Once your pet is seen by a veterinarian – intravenous fluids will be immediately given to correct shock, and your pet will receive oxygenation and possibly a mild sedative to help them breathe better. Diagnostics and several other treatments will be performed depending on the severity of your pet’s symptoms.

What is the Prognosis for Pet Heat Stroke?

The length of time in which the patient was exposed to high temperatures or what their internal temperature determines the prognosis. The earlier heat stroke is recognized and treated, the better. If caught too late or not treated, heat stroke can be fatal. This is why we recommend seeking medical attention immediately upon suspicion of a pet heat stroke.

How Can I Prevent a Dog Heat Stroke?

Here are some helpful tips for preventing heat stroke:

  • Never leave your pet locked inside a vehicle with no A/C
  • Avoid outdoor activity between 10-4pm
  • If your pet lives outside, make sure there are plenty of cool, shaded areas and water readily available at all times. Consider bringing them inside on very hot days.
  • Prevent obesity in your pet through healthy diet and exercise.

By following these helpful tips, you can prevent your pet from experiencing a dangerous heat stroke. We hope you find this information helpful and informative. You can now find Dr. Alvarez at our White Rock location. Dr. Alvarez is an exceptional veterinarian who consistently demonstrates an extraordinary level of care and dedication towards animals and their well-being. With a compassionate and empathetic approach, he has established himself as a trustworthy and reliable professional in the veterinary community.

You can book an appointment with Dr. Alvarez at our White Rock location today.