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Heat Stroke in Pets: Know the Warning Signs

heat strokeHeat stroke, or hyperthermia, is a real danger for pets and people. Hyperthermia occurs when your dog’s body temperature rises dangerously above normal (103°F), putting them in danger of multiple organ failure or death. Early recognition and treatment of heat stroke improves your pet’s chances of making a quick recovery.


  • Panting
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive drooling
  • Reddened gums
  • Reduced urine production
  • Rapid/irregular heart rate
  • Vomiting blood/ black, tarry stools
  • Changes in mental status (ie, confusion)
  • Seizures/muscle tremors
  • Wobbly, uncoordinated/drunken gait or movement
  • Unconsciousness / Cardiopulmonary Arrest (heart and breathing stop)

TREATMENT: At the first sign of overheating, it’s important to take steps to gradually cool your pet down. Do NOT use ice or extremely cold water as it can cause shock and other undesirable reactions. Spray your pet with cool water or wrap them in cool, wet towels and use a fan for convection cooling.  Evaporative cooling can also be used by swabbing isopropyl alcohol on foot pads, groin, and under the forelegs. When their temperature reaches 103° F, stop cooling to avoid dropping below normal body temperature, then seek veterinary care.

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