About animals

Dog sunstroke


Detecting a dog's heatstroke at an early stage and treating it in a timely manner is important to successfully recover your pet. When a dog shows clear symptoms of heat stroke, it is often too late to save it.

Heat stroke can occur suddenly, and its symptoms may not be obvious, especially if you do not know what to look for. But how then to understand the difference between a dog just enjoying the sun and one that is in a potentially dangerous area?

In the third part of our study, we analyze how is heat stroke manifested in dogswhat are its early signs and symptoms, and also try to determine the line between simple heat fatigue and critical heat stroke.

In the previous parts, we figured out what heat shock in dogs is and what are the risk factors for heat stroke. And in the following, we will consider what to do if a heat stroke still happened and how it could be avoided.


Stages of heat stroke development

Among heat injuries such as thermal shockheat fainting, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, thermal fatigue, thermal edema of the extremities, in dogs a special place can be given to thermal shock and heat exhaustion (fatigue). This is due to the fact that heat stroke is the most serious, so to speak, final form of the disease with very serious consequences, and heat fatigue and exhaustion - milder in shape - actually act as precursors or the initial stage of heat stroke.
Therefore, it is extremely important to learn how to separate them in order to recognize the danger in time and take the necessary measures, preventing the development of slight “fatigue” into a fatal “blow”.

The difference in the severity of states between “fatigue”, “exhaustion” and “shock” is understandable even on an intuitive level. If the dogs were able to speak, they would directly say: “something is hot for me, and in general I’m tired” (fatigue), “listen, I can no longer tolerate this heat and stuffiness” (exhaustion), “that's it, I'm really bad and I can’t even speak ”(hit).
But dogs (and even bulldogs!) Do not know how to talk, so the owner must be able to assess the state of his pet by some indirect signals. The main objective signs of the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be attributed temperature body and reaction on the measures taken.

When your pet's body temperature rises above normal (38-38.5 ° C for a bulldog), you can talk about heat damage. This condition ranges from mild heat fatigue (39-39.5 ° C) to heat exhaustion (39.5-40.5 ° C), which can be treated at home. Temperatures above 40-40.5 ° C mean heat stroke, after which your pet may lose consciousness or experience another malfunction of the internal organs.

According to the American Kennel Club, 40 ° C is considered a critical temperature for diagnosing heat stroke. Other researchers consider the boundary temperature to be 40.5 ° C. Thus, you need to understand that these are approximate numbers, not mathematics. Measuring the temperature to the nearest tenth of a degree and waiting for “blow or not” is not only pointless, but also dangerous. Heat stroke develops very quickly, and the sooner measures are taken to stop it, the greater the chance of survival.

If this is not a serious heat loss, the dog will react very quickly to the measures taken and will soon feel better. For each specific dog and for each specific situation it is impossible to establish the exact time necessary to improve the condition, but you should pay attention to the trend. If symptoms seem to worsen after 5, 10, or 15 minutes in a cool room or in water, then it's time to worry. Well, if you notice something more serious, for example, cramps, or that the dog stops responding, or something else like that, just immediately rush to the veterinarian.

The remaining differences in the symptoms of heat damage are more subtle. And you need to have experience to understand that your dog is slightly overheated or begins to heat stroke. But where to get this experience, if heat stroke occurs suddenly and, worse, can happen only once in a lifetime? This is his insidiousness. You just need to be attentive, careful and partial.
Symptoms of heat injuries of varying severity can overlap, there is no clear border. In addition, you need to remember that your pet may not show all of these signs, but only part of them. And, moreover, their absence does not mean that your dog did not receive heat stroke.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke in dogs

Briefly, the external picture of heat stroke in dogs is as follows. At the beginning of the disease, the animal shows anxiety, which is soon replaced by oppression. Weakness, rapid breathing and palpitations, pallor and cyanosis of the mucous membranes appear. Possible vomiting. The pupils are dilated or narrowed. A severe form of hyperthermia develops quickly, the animal loses its ability to actively move, lays down, hardly gets up, there are signs of pulmonary edema, a coma occurs and, possibly, sudden death of the animal.

Consider the early signs of heat stroke and its symptoms in more detail, in order to at least somehow arm you against this insidious disease.


This is not even a symptom, but the meaning of the disease as such. Because the fever and have hyperthermia.

For an English bulldog, normal body temperature, measured rectally, is 38-38.5 ° C. But the temperature can be individual and vary between different breeds, as well as puppies and old dogs. Therefore, it is advisable to know the exact temperature of your dog.

With mild overheating (heat fatigue, heat exhaustion), body temperature rises by 1-2 ° to 40-40.5 ° C, with severe - reaches 42-44 ° C.

If the temperature rises above 40 ° C, then the animal most likely will no longer respond to you, it will concentrate only on breathing. The dog tries to lie in cold places and is constantly shifted. As soon as the place is heated - it changes to another.

If the temperature rises above 42 ° C, then the animal will most likely already be lying on its side unconscious and breathe as often. And do not react to anything at all. There is a threat of cerebral edema and damage to internal organs.

Temperatures above 43 ° C are usually fatal. Body cells quickly begin to die. The brain swells, causing seizures. Lack of blood supply to the gastrointestinal tract leads to ulcers. Dehydration leads to permanent damage to the kidneys. All these catastrophic events develop in a matter of minutes.

But we don’t carry a thermometer for walks, and we don’t always poke our sphincter at home. And the temperature on the face of the dog is not written.
Therefore, if the dog began to show the symptoms described below, then the only way to check your suspicions is to measure the temperature (by the way, only rectally).

Abnormal behavior

It is important to identify the problem before it becomes so serious that you have to intervene and prevent serious overheating. Early signs - they are more subtle! For instance:

  • it may just be that your dog has become less responsive to commands than usual,
  • when you call your pet by name, instead of responding, he can roam without paying attention to you,
  • the dog shows weakness and / or fatigue, it can often lie down, doze more than usual, refusing or not being able to get up,
  • all the way your pet joyfully ran ahead, and then suddenly trudged behind, slowing down every meter,
  • the dog can bark, whine, show signs of anxiety and anxiety, or, conversely, become lethargic or aggressive.

Knowing the usual behavior of your pet, you can literally pick up these warning signs on an intuitive level, feeling that suddenly something went wrong.

Rapid breathing

Shortness of breath is a completely normal reaction for a dog when it warms up or strains. Therefore, in the early stages of overheating, it can be difficult to assess the real state of your pet.

It is worth worrying if the dog began to breathe too often. Not just “often”, but abnormally often: 150-200 or even 300-400 breathing cycles per minute.

As heat damage develops, breathing becomes shallow, shallow, and there are no periods of calm breathing at all.

When breathing becomes loud and noisy, and even worse - a cough appears, these are already signs of pulmonary edema. Cough - first dry, then with pink foamy sputum (due to streaks of blood), as the swelling increases and the lungs fill with fluid, breathing becomes bubbling, audible from a distance, visible mucous membranes of the oral cavity and tongue become cyanotic (tissue cyanosis develops as a result of reduce the flow of oxygenated blood), foamy, sometimes reddish fluid may be released from the nasal openings during exhalation, to facilitate breathing, the dog extends its forelimbs, stretches Vaeth neck, open mouth, the animal raised, anxious, moaning, can be afraid or vice versa aggressively.
Some of the above symptoms with pulmonary edema in dogs may not be observed. But if the dog has pulmonary edema, then most likely you will not be able to get it to the veterinary clinic.

It should be remembered that the main organ of thermoregulation in dogs is the nose. And since bulldogs, like other brachycephals, have little adapted nose for this, they are more susceptible to thermal damage, they begin shortness of breath earlier, and they cannot use this tool as effectively as other breeds.

Excessive salivation

The condition of saliva and its amount can serve as both an early and later sign of heat damage.
Bright or dark red tongue and gums. Bright red tongue and pale gums. Dark red (red or purple) gums or tongue. Bright red, gray, purple, or bluish gums. Gums that first turn bright red and then blue or purple. White, sometimes cyanotic gums and fluttered ...

To understand this color palette and understand what is currently happening with the dog and at what stage of heat stroke it can only be a specialist. Therefore, an ordinary dog ​​owner should adopt the one and only rule: if your dog’s gums and shots are different from the usual, this may be a symptom of heat stroke. And the stronger this color change, the more critical the situation.

Signs of dehydration

If you crossed the moment of excessive salivation, then the first sign of dehydration can be the condition of the mucous membranes: gums, bruises, tongue become sticky. Well, the nose is dry.

Another sign of dehydration can be excessive thirst. If a dog suddenly starts licking grass or some cool objects, or frantically drinking from a puddle - it means that the reserves of fluid in the body have waned. By the way, in the latter case, do not stop her from getting drunk, even if the puddle seems to you not quite clean - dehydration is worse than dirt.

Other signs of dehydration are difficult to recognize for the average dog owner, they are either difficult to observe or are more likely to be appropriate for specialists.

Darker, concentrated urine, or a smaller volume, up to the absence. Well, it’s only suitable if you run after your pet and keep a close watch on his urination. Or maybe he just already marked all the bushes, and the urine ran out for natural reasons?

Loss of skin elasticity. This is also a sign that is difficult to recognize for a layman. In order to determine the turgor (fullness with liquid) of the skin, it is necessary with two fingers to pull the skin on the back of the paw, belly, on the face or neck, wait a few seconds and release. Skin with normal turgor quickly returns to its normal position. And if it takes more time to return back to the starting position, then your pet is dehydrated. Do you know how much “more time is required” to return to your dog’s normal position?

Change in heart rate and strength

If you know how to measure your pet's pulse (on the left side of the chest near the elbow or better on the femoral artery) and, in addition, know its normal rhythm, then a change in the frequency and strength of the heartbeats can be considered symptoms of heat stroke.

First, there is a rapid heartbeat and an irregular heart rate. Cardiac output increases, which is expressed by a strong pulsation. Later, shock develops and the pulse becomes weak.

Vomiting and diarrhea

Vomiting and / or diarrhea can be symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Moreover, if blood is detected in the vomit or stool, then the process has already gone very far: there has been damage to the blood vessels in the stomach and / or intestines. Due to dehydration, the blood becomes thick, blood clots form in it, which leads to impaired blood circulation and to necrosis (death) of tissues of internal organs. These lesions can occur quite quickly, literally within a few minutes.

Neurological disorders

Although at heat stroke there is a violation of the functions of all organs and systems, this disease is assigned to the group of diseases of the nervous system according to the basic mechanism of nucleation and development - brain damage. Therefore, if your pet shows neurological disorders of varying severity, then heat stroke has already happened.

Disruptions in the brain will first be accompanied by neurological disorders of mild to moderate severity:

  • a glazed, dull look,
  • dizziness, unsteady ("drunk") gait and staggering,
  • ataxia (violation of the coordination of movements of various muscles), loss of balance when standing and walking,
  • disorientation, semi-unconsciousness, depression, problems with walking in a straight line or bumping into furniture.

And closer to the final stage, neurological disorders will be severe:

  • cramps, muscle tremors (trembling), regardless of the temperature of the outside air,
  • fainting (pupils react to light)
  • coma (pupils do not respond to light),
  • sudden death.


These are the most common and easily detectable symptoms of heat stroke, but there are many more. If in hot summer days your dog seems sick, tired or you notice other anomalies - do not ignore them! If in doubt, call your veterinarian.

But do not focus only on hot weather. There are other causes of heat stress that are not related to heat and humidity. It can, for example, be infectious diseases or poisoning.

Therefore, it is very important to obtain the most complete and reliable history preceding the incident in order to exclude any other diagnoses or causes. You may think that the dog has overheated, and she has been poisoned. But you can also think that the dog was poisoned, and she overheated. And at the appointment with the veterinarian, you must be 100 percent sure that the bulldog could not lick something in your absence or grab some rubbish for a walk.
The sooner the correct diagnosis is made, the greater the chances of salvation.

Causes of occurrence

Due to the anatomical features, dogs have practically no sweat glands in their bodies. They are located only in the area of ​​the paw pads, so moisture evaporation occurs with the help of the mucous membranes of the oral cavity and tongue.

In hot weather and when overheating, the pet begins to breathe faster, trying to adjust the body temperature. Sunstroke occurs in dogs as a result of prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.

Prolonged exposure to direct rays of the infrared spectrum leads to overheating of the cerebral cortex. The energy emanating from infrared rays is especially strongly absorbed by the cellular structures of the brain, translating it into thermal energy. There is a sharp heating and circulatory disturbance in the brain.

An increase in temperature indicators of the substance of the brain by 2-3 degrees leads to swelling of the brain and membranes. The death of a pet can occur as a result of a violation of the respiratory center and blood vessels of the brain.

The histamine, which is released in the skin by direct sunlight, also exerts a stimulating effect on the centers in the brain. From the onset of exposure to infrared rays to the development of irreversible effects, an average of 60 minutes to 3 hours passes. If during this period no help is provided to the pet, a fatal outcome occurs after half an hour. Heat shock is caused by:

  • prolonged exposure to open sunlight
  • finding a pet in a stuffy room,
  • a narrow muzzle in hot weather (interferes with the physiological process of heat transfer),
  • chronic diseases of the heart muscle,
  • strong physical activity during hot weather.

Signs of heat stroke in a dog

Understanding what processes occur in the animal’s body under the influence of sunlight or high temperature, the owner will be able to properly navigate and provide the necessary assistance. It is important to distinguish heat stroke symptoms in a timely manner. The main ones are:

  • the appearance of panting in a pet. The animal takes a lying position, the output of salivary fluid slows down, the mucous membranes of the oral cavity dry out, the tongue sticks out,
  • the appearance of intermittent breathing, severe redness of the mucous membrane of the eyes,
  • the appearance of bursting vessels on the mucous membrane of the eyes, the occurrence of tremor of the extremities, a state of panic,
  • manifestation of dyspeptic disorders - eruption of gastric contents, blurred consciousness, upset stool,
  • impaired coordination of movement, the phenomenon of intoxication of the body,
  • the appearance of edema, cyanosis of the mucous membranes, lethargic condition of the pet, coma.

Signs of shock in dogs as a result of exposure to direct sunlight or overheating must be distinguished in a timely manner to stop the start of irreversible processes.

Experts note that even if, after the presence of dangerous symptoms, the animal returns to normal, it is necessary to conduct observations and it is advisable to undergo diagnosis in the clinic within 4-6 days.

This is due to the fact that not all violations and pathological processes after a sunstroke disappear completely and appear instantly.

Signs of heat stroke in dogs

  • The dog breathes heavily and often sticks out his tongue, takes a lying position, the outflow of saliva is markedly increased.
  • Breathing becomes intermittent, the mucous membranes of the eyelids turn red, a temperature increase is noticeable to the touch.
  • The eyelids are covered with a red "mesh" (bursting vessels), trembling, panic state, vomiting, diarrhea, dry and hot nose are observed.
  • The animal cannot stand up, loses coordination or consciousness, convulsions, involuntary defecation, signs of poisoning appear.
  • After edema, a sharp drop in temperature occurs, the mucous membranes become cyanotic, the animal falls into lethargy, then into a coma.

Dog Heat Stroke Treatment

What to do with heatstroke should know every owner of the animal, regardless of whether it is a professional or an amateur. It is the first aid that helps to avoid serious disorders in the brain.

The first stages of hyperthermia pass almost imperceptibly and the body copes on its own without outside help. At the first manifestations of heat stroke, it is necessary to place the pet in a cool room, the total temperature in which should not be higher than 23 degrees. It is advisable to wipe the coat of the animal with a towel dampened in water.

Place a special compress in the armpits and inner thighs. It is important to constantly monitor the temperature of the body using a thermometer (preferably electronic). It is impossible to lower the temperature sharply, cooling should occur gradually over a period of 60-90 minutes. Upon reaching a temperature of 39 degrees, it is advisable to stop the cooling measures.

It is necessary to treat animals in the severe stage of hyperthermia using not only physiological methods, but also with the use of medications. For the quickest cooling of the body, apply cooling enemas. An increase in the tone of the vascular walls occurs by the introduction of a solution of glucose and caffeine. In addition to increasing tone, with the help of intravenous administration of drugs, respiratory activity is also excited.

In veterinary medicine, sedatives are actively used - Aminazin, bromides, Veronal. Diagnosis of wet wheezing during breathing (edema of the pulmonary structures), involves the use of bloodletting and the introduction of a solution of calcium chloride. Removal of edema occurs due to the introduction of Furasemide or drugs based on it.

First aid (emergency) for heat stroke in dogs

  • Put your dog in the bath.
  • Turn on a cool shower (not cold) and water the entire body of the dog, especially the head from the back and neck.
  • Allow the water to fill the bath while the dog is taking a shower, but keep the dog's head up to prevent aspiration pneumonia.
  • If it is not possible to provide the dog with a bath, then use a garden hose with water, a pool and other sources of water.
  • A cold compress on the dog’s head helps lower the temperature (frozen vegetables can be used).
  • Foot massage. Vigorous rubbing helps circulation and reduces the risk of shock.
  • Provide unlimited drinking of cool or cold water. Adding salt to a bowl of water will help replace minerals lost during heavy / rapid breathing.

  • Check for shock.
  • Measure the temperature of the dog every five minutes, continuing to cool with water until it drops below 39.4 ° C.
  • If the dog's temperature drops a little more - approximately 37.8 ° C - do not worry, the low temperature is less dangerous.
  • Treat shock if necessary.
  • Call your veterinarian immediately. Heat stroke can cause invisible problems, such as cerebral edema, renal failure, and bleeding disorders. On the way to the veterinary hospital, provide free air access and air conditioning for cooling.

Dog Heatstroke Prevention

Heat stroke, like any pathological condition, is easier to prevent by taking appropriate measures than to deal with elimination. Prevention of hyperthermia consists in observing several rules:

  • prevent the animal from staying in stuffy rooms for a long period,
  • It is forbidden to leave a pet in the car in the summer,
  • give you the opportunity to drink clean cool water in unlimited quantities,
  • walking with pets in the summer in the morning and after sunset.

It is important to remember that when signs of overheating appear, it is forbidden to give the pet medicines intended for humans. All that the owner can do is to take cooling measures by means of physical impact using compresses and moving the pet to a cool place.

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