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Hyperthermia in Pets

July 24, 2018

Hyperthermia in Pets (Heatstroke)

You may have seen articles in the media of pets in a hot car being rescued by local law enforcement. In these posts, law enforcement is trying to prevent them from succumbing to Hyperthermia, more commonly known as Heat Stroke.This article is intended to teach you how to recognize, prevent, and seek emergency help if a case of heat stroke should occur.

What is heatstroke?

A dog’s normal body temperature is between 101-102 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a true emergency if your pet’s body temperature rises above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Having a highly elevated temperature will cause them to pant rapidly and if left untreated, they will have trouble breathing which can quickly lead to death.

*Remember to keep a close eye on geriatric dogs, (short-nosed) breeds, and pets with laryngeal paralysis who are more prone to heat stroke.*

Tips to avoid causing heatstroke:

Don’t leave an animal unattended outside without access to shade or water.

Try to limit the amount of time spent outdoors during the heat of the day. Exercise your pet early morning or late afternoon and offer plenty of breaks and cold water.

Don’t leave any animal inside a closed vehicle on a really hot day. In just 10 minutes, the temperature could reach over 110 degrees! If you need to go to the store simply leave your pet at home.

Symptoms of Heat stroke are:

1)Excessive panting/restlessness

2)Increased amount of saliva coming from mouth/nose


4)Difficulty breathing and blue/purple or bright red gums and tongue due to lack of oxygen

If you see another animal locked in a vehicle in the parking lot first determine if the air conditioner is running. If you fear for the animal’s safety seek out the owner of the animal in the store. Finally, if you can not find the owner DO NOT JUST BREAK THE WINDOW! Contact local law enforcement to assist in the safe retrieval and treatment of the animal in distress.

What do I do if my pet is suffering from heat stroke?

Emergencies happen when we least expect them. If you find your pet in heat related distress first move your pet to a cool, shaded area or in an air-conditioned room if available. Offer the animal water but do not force them to drink. If possible, check the temperature rectally to monitor. Contact the nearest veterinary hospital for further instructions and get them there ASAP.

The West Greenwich Animal Hospital wishes you and your pets a safe summer!

Helpful link:

Estimated Vehicle Interior Air Temperature v. Elapsed Time (chart)


Contact us, your local animal clinic in West Greenwich, RI!

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