Heat Stroke is an extremely serious condition characterized by the increase in body temperature which is accompanied by multiple organ failure often resulting in death. The normal rectal temperature for cats and dogs is approximately 101.5°F to 102°F. Hyperthermia is the increase in body temperature above the normal levels. Anything above 103°F is considered an abnormal temperature. Animals with Heat Stroke usually have the temperature of 106°F and above. In total there is a disparity between heat dissipation from the body and the external environmental temperature.

What are the signs of Heat Stroke?

Signs of Heat Stroke include:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Reddishness of gums and other mucous membranes
  • Vomiting
  • Increased salivation
  • Bleeding from the nostrils
  • Rapid breathing/ panting
  • Increased / irregular heartbeats
  • Distress
  • Minimal urination
  • Loss of coordination/ wobbling gait
  • Seizures/ convulsions
  • Muscular tremors
  • Collapse  
  • Unconsciousness


What are the causes of Heat Stroke?

Most common causes of Heat Stroke are:

  • Very high environmental temperature with humidity (like in summer)
  • Increased activity/ exercise (especially in direct sunlight)
  • Being enclosed in a closed car/ chamber
  • Housing in an improperly ventilated room


Which dogs are more commonly affected with Heat Stroke?

All dogs are at risk of having a Heat Stroke however, there are some risk factors like:

  • Old dogs
  • Dogs with the thick hair coat
  • Dogs with compromised thyroid
  • Breeds like pugs and boxers (brachycephalic breeds)
  • Breeds like Huskies, St. Bernard, etc are prone (if raised in tropical climatic conditions)

What to do in case of Heat Stroke?

Consult your vet immediately if you notice any of the above signs and if you suspect that your dog might be having a Heat Stroke. However, as a first aid one can follow certain steps like:

  • Remove the dog from the hot environment
  • Use ice packs to cool the body  
  • Use wet towels to cool the body
  • Use fans to cool the body
  • Offer cool water to drink
  • Avoid forced drinking
  • Do not immerse the animal in cold water.



  • It is advised to cool the body gradually
  • Avoid use of ice/cold water to immerse the dog as it diminishes heat loss from the body by constricting the blood vessels
  • Do not overcool the animal as it may result in other problems (stop cooling once the rectal temperature reaches to 103°F).



How to Prevent Heat Stroke in dogs?

Heat Stroke can be best prevented by:

  • Providing good ventilation
  • Offering cool water to drink all the time
  • Use of air conditioners/ fans during hot weathers
  • Treatment of the underlying cause like a thyroid problem
  • Trimming of hair coat during summer
  • Sprinkling water during daytime
  • The regular check-up by a vet


A healthy pet is a happy pet

Dr. Chandrashekhar Salimath

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