Dr. Lucy

Dr. Lucy is an expert when it comes to helping keep you and your dog(s) in a happy, healthy, and loving environment. This page is dedicated to offering Entertaining & Educational information for all of our furry 4 legged friends and the humans who love them!

Dr. Lucy wants to help you keep your dogs safe in hot weather:

Increased Body Temperature and Heat Stroke in Dogs:

Hyperthermia is an elevation in body temperature that is above the generally accepted normal range. Although normal values for dogs vary slightly, it usually is accepted that body temperatures above 103° F (39° C) are abnormal. Heat stroke, meanwhile, is a form of non-fever hyperthermia that occurs when heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body cannot accommodate excessive external heat. Typically associated with temperature of of 106° F (41° C) or higher without signs of inflammation, a heat stroke can lead to multiple organ dysfunction.

Hyperthermia can be categorized as either fever or non-fever hyperthermias. Fever hyperthermia results from inflammation in the body (such as the type that occurs secondary to a bacterial infection). Non-fever hyperthermia results from all other causes of increased body temperature.
Other causes of non-fever hyperthermia include excessive exercise, excessive levels of thyroid hormones in the body, and lesions in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates body temperature.

Non-fever hyperthermia occurs most commonly in dogs (as opposed to cats). It can affect any breed, but is more frequent in long-haired dogs and short-nosed, flat-faced dogs, also known as brachycephalic breeds. It can occur at any age but tends to affect young dogs more than old dogs.

Prevention:
Avoid taking your dog out during the hottest times of day, or leaving the dog in places that can become too hot for your dog, like a garage, sunny room, sunny yard, or car. Never leave your dog in a parked car, even for only a few minutes, as a closed car becomes dangerously hot very rapidly. Always have water accessible to your dog; on hot days you might even add ice blocks for your dog to lick.*Dogs that have suffered an episode of hyperthermia are prone to experiencing it again.

Symptoms of both types include:

Panting
Dehydration
Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
Increased body temperature – above 103° F (39° C)
Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine
Sudden (acute) kidney failure
Rapid heart rate
Irregular heart beats
Shock
Stoppage of the heart and breathing (cardiopulmonary arrest)
Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress (tachypnea)
Blood-clotting disorder(s)
Vomiting blood (hematemesis)
Passage of blood in the bowel movement or stool
Black, tarry stools
Small, pinpoint areas of bleeding
Generalized (systemic) inflammatory response syndrome
Disease characterized by the breakdown of red-muscle tissue
Death of liver cells
Changes in mental status
Seizures
Muscle tremors
Wobbly, incoordinated or drunken gait or movement (ataxia)
Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened

Causes:
Excessive environmental heat and humidity (may be due to weather conditions, such as a hot day, or to being enclosed in an unventilated room, car, or grooming dryer cage)
Upper airway disease that inhibits breathing; the upper airway (also known as the upper respiratory tract) includes the nose, nasal passages, throat (pharynx), and windpipe (trachea).

Treatment:
It is very important to avoid ice or very cold water, as this may cause blood vessels near the surface of the body to constrict and may decrease heat dissipation. A shivering response also is undesirable, as it creates internal heat. Lowering the temperature too quickly can lead to other health problems, a gradual lowering is best. The same guideline applies to drinking water. Allow your dog to drink cool, not cold, water freely. However, do not force your dog to drink.

Some external cooling techniques include spraying the dog down with cool water, or immersing the dog’s entire body in cool – not cold – water; wrapping the dog in cool, wet towels; convection cooling with fans; and/or evaporative cooling (such as isopropyl alcohol on foot pads, groin, and under the forelegs). Stop cooling procedures when temperature reaches 103° F (using a rectal thermometer) to avoid dropping below normal body temperature.