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  • Signs and Symptoms of Heatstroke in Animals

    Signs and Symptoms of Heatstroke in Animals

    The heat of the summer months can be uncomfortable. Sometimes, it could even be dangerous not just for you but for your pets too. The number of dogs and cats visiting their vets during the warmer months of the year increases due to heatstroke. This condition is a common health problem that all pet owners should know about. Unfortunately, a lot of dog and cat parents do not even realize that their pets can overheat when the temperature soars. Worse, they only seek help at the eleventh hour.


    What Is Heatstroke?


    Heatstroke, also referred to as heat stress, is a term that is used to describe hyperthermia. It is a state where the core body temperature is above the normal range, resulting in thermal injury to tissues.


    Generally speaking, if your pet’s body temperature exceeds 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius), it is considered abnormal. Heatstroke is a severe condition that can lead to multiple organ failure. The critical body temperature where organ damage and impending death can occur is around 107 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit (41.2 to 42.7 degrees Celsius).


    What Causes Heatstroke?


    Dogs and cats do not respond to heat in the same way that humans do. You have sweat glands all over your body to help regulate temperature. Your four-legged furbaby, however, only has a few, such as their noses and paw pads. Since they cannot cool themselves down as quickly as you do, they generally rely on panting as well as external cooling to help them lose heat. Many animals are highly susceptible to heatstroke, and it can happen a lot faster than you think.


    Several factors can put your pet at a considerable risk of heatstroke. These include:

    • Excessive exercise or overexertion.

    • Lack of sufficient drinking water.

    • Lack of adequate shade or airflow, or both.

    • Exposure to warm or hot, humid environment.

    • They are confined in a vehicle. Note that your pet could still be at risk of heat stress even when the windows are left open, and the car is parked somewhere in the shade.


    Other risk factors include obesity, heart problems, respiratory disease, age, thick or heavy coats, and short-faced breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, who have smaller nasal passages.


    Signs and Symptoms of Heatstroke


    Abnormally high body temperature can harm the cells and result in a systemic or whole-body inflammatory response. This damages vital organs, such as the kidneys, liver, and brain.


    Symptoms of heatstroke can range from mild to life-threatening. It may also vary between pets, but signs commonly include:

    • Rapid breathing or panting.

    • Drooling or salivating.

    • Red or pale gums.

    • Bright red tongues.

    • Abnormal bleeding, such as blood in vomit or feces.

    • Vomiting and diarrhea (possibly with blood).

    • Little to no urine production.

    • Agitation and restlessness.

    • Disorientation or signs of mental confusion.

    • Dizziness.

    • Lethargy.

    • Increased heart rate.

    • Muscle tremors.

    • Seizures.

    • Collapse.

    • Coma.


    Heatstroke is a life-threatening health emergency. So, even if you only suspect that your pet might be suffering from this condition, you still have to check with your vet to know for sure.


    Your pet’s lifeline is our utmost priority. For any urgent concerns, do not hesitate to visit the Animal Emergency Clinic of San Diego in Poway, California. You can reach us at (858) 842-5600 for more information.