Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke Precautions and Responses From Our Veterinarians in Livonia

Pet Heat Stroke or Heat Exhaustion 

Hot summers are often referred to as "dog days," but that doesn't mean that extreme temperatures are safe or healthy for your dog or cat. Quite the opposite, in fact -- excessive heat, coupled with a lack of shade and/or water, can easily result in hyperthermia and its potentially-deadly complication, heat stroke. Taking smart preventative precautions, knowing the signs of hyperthermia, and bringing a heat-stricken pet to our veterinarians in Livonia for immediate treatment can make all the difference in keeping your pet alive and well.

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke

Hyperthermia is the state in which the body loses its ability to keep its internal body temperature to an acceptable level. (In dogs, this means a temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit.) Hyperthermia can occur for a variety of reasons, including fevers spurred by infectious diseases. When the problem is related to the environment rather than infection, however, you're looking at potential heat stroke. Sizzling daytime temperatures are the prime culprit, especially if you have an outdoor pet who cannot retreat to a consistent source of shade. Pets must have even more access than usual to fresh, cool water in such conditions -- a trickier problem that you might assume since the heat causes the water in pet's bowl to evaporate rapidly.

Heat stroke is preceded by a transitional stage known as heat exhaustion. You may first notice that your pet is panting heavily, a classic early warning sign that means you need to get your pet some water, shade, and preferably air conditioning. If your pet starts vomiting or acting disoriented, bring him to our Livonia veterinarian before full-blown heat stroke can set in. Heat stroke symptoms include a racing heart, drooling, pale gums, red tongue, diarrhea, seizures and loss of consciousness. This is an emergency can that can lead to multiple organ failure and death in a matter of minutes.

Preventative Measures and Emergency Pet Care

Our veterinarians in Livonia, Dr. Sharon Sheehy and Dr. Jacqueline Devitt can provide emergency pet care measures to save your best friend from heat stroke. Wrap your pet in damp, cool (but not ice-cold) towels and bring him to Sheehy Animal Hospital immediately. We can administer a careful of oxygen, hydration therapy, cold compresses, and other treatments to get your pet's temperature under control. We can also provide you with valuable advice for keeping this scenario from ever happening, such as:

  • Adding a dog house, tree or another source of shade in the yard
  • Bringing your outdoor pet indoors during the hottest part of the day
  • Automating the water supply to your pet's bowl
  • Keeping brachycephalic (short-nosed) pets out of the heat altogether
  • Never leaving your pet in a hot car

Let Sheehy Animal Hospital Help Your Pet

Sheehy Animal Hospital can help you protect your pet against those "dog days" and the heat stroke they can produce. Call (248) 615-7670 for more information!

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  • "I love this veterinary clinic. Dr. Sheehy and staff are all friendly and seem to take pride in their jobs. I enjoy taking my three rats there and would recommend them to everyone I know."
    Cheyenne H / Livonia, MI

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