Dogs (and cats) are much more sensitive to heat than humans, and a hot day can be very dangerous if the exposure to heat goes be- yond a reasonable amount. A day that would make us cry out “Good lord, no one would get in this car!”, can kill an animal in minutes.
Heat stroke is the common name of hyper- thermia, a rise of body temperature to the point where there is a risk of organ damage and malfunction of the physiological proc- esses. Its effects can be temporary or irrevers- ible and can cause death.
Mammals (and birds) have a mechanism that allows their body to regulate the tem- perature of the deeper organs. Thanks to this they can survive big changes in external tem- perature. But the thermoregulatory system is not efficient enough in extreme cases, so the internal temperature continues to rise inexo- rably, damaging the organs.
Dogs do not perspire, and they only get rid of heat by three mechanisms:
• By panting • By sweating, only through the feet pads • By isolated areas with little hair, like the
A list of things that can trigger heat stroke, and therefore should be monitored:
• Environment: High outdoor tempera- tures; moderate outdoor temperature after several days of sweltering heat; high humid- ity; limited and/or poorly ventilated spaces (car, room, small patio, balcony, carrier, ship’s hold …) little water, water that is not fresh or not renewed often; lack of shade or reduced shadowed space; concrete floors …
• Animal: Very young or very old; sick (heart failure, respiratory failure, stress), obesity, brachycephalic breeds (flat nose); Bulldog, Pug, Boxer, Pekingese, Persian Cat; coat color (dark ones absorb more heat), digestion (best NOT to feed during the day but at sunset), exercise …
“Heat stroke” usually occurs on a very hot day or a day of moderate heat that has followed several consecutive hot days. The heat lowers the sugar and salt reserves in the dog’s body, so the longer the period of heat, the faster the animal can suffer from a heat stroke.
They appear when the internal tempera- ture exceeds 42 o.
Asthenia, muscle tremors, staggering, cyanosis (bluish skin due to deficient oxygenation of the blood), refusal to move, increased heart rate, discoloration of the mucous membranes, changes in salivation.
Body loss of salts and sugar, petechiae (small blood spots on the skin), gastrointestinal bleeding, liver failure, renal failure, cerebral edema, multiple organ failure.
Do not attempt to lower the animal’s temperature too rapidly, as this could cause hypothermia with equally serious results. The temperature should be lowered gradually and the animal must rehydrate and recover the sugar and salts lost.
the first thing to do:
• Dampen (without wrapping or covering) primarily the neck, head and abdomen us- ing cloths soaked in cold water or by using a water spray. NEVER cover the animal with wet towels.
• Place an ice cube on the bridge of the nose, groin and armpits.
• Moisten the mouth, without forcing the animal to drink, and without allowing it to drink in excess.
• Bring the animal to a cool place.
• Soak the animal in water at about 20 de- grees or apply a jet of water at that temperature until normal breathing is restored.
• When the breathing has become normal, place the animal on a wet towel.
• Take the animal to a veterinarian center as soon as possible and explain everything you’ve done. It is ESSENTIAL that the animal be under veterinary supervision to observe its evolution as well as to assess if treatments or medications are needed. The fact that normal breathing is restored does not imply the absence of brain damage and other consequences from this shock.
The death of patients hospitalized in seri- ous condition may occur within 24 hours by respiratory depression and arrest.