Hyperthermia in Dogs

Can Dogs get Hyperthermia?

Dogs are susceptible to hyperthermia, when their body temperature rises to dangerously high levels. Hyperthermia can occur due to exposure to hot weather, strenuous exercise, or certain medical conditions.

Symptoms of hyperthermia in dogs include panting, excessive thirst, lethargy, and vomiting. If left untreated, hyperthermia can lead to organ damage and even death.

There are several treatments for hyperthermia in dogs, including cooling them down with cool water or air, providing them with shade or air conditioning, and giving them small amounts of cool water to drink.

In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary. Prevention of hyperthermia is the best way to keep your dog safe and healthy during hot weather. Does your dog get enough water and shade? Avoid exercising them in extreme heat. 


Symptoms of Hyperthermia in Dogs

  • Excessive Panting and Drooling: One of the primary symptoms of hyperthermia in dogs is excessive panting and drooling. Dogs rely on panting as their primary method of cooling down, but when they become overheated, the panting intensifies. You may notice your dog's breath become rapid and shallow, and they may excessively drool. If you observe these signs, it's crucial to take action promptly.


  • Elevated Body Temperature:  Raised body temperature is a significant indicator of hyperthermia. A normal dog's body temperature ranges from 100.5°F to 102.5°F (38°C to 39.2°C). If your dog's temperature rises above 103°F (39.4°C), it's a cause for concern. You can measure their body temperature using a rectal thermometer, although it's best to consult your veterinarian for proper guidance.


  • Red or Pale Gums: Heatstroke can lead to changes in the color of your dog's gums. Initially, their gums may appear bright red due to increased blood flow. However, as the condition progresses, the gums may become pale or even bluish in severe cases. Monitor your dog's gum color regularly, as it can provide valuable insight into their overall well-being.


  • Weakness and Lethargy: Dogs experiencing heatstroke often exhibit signs of weakness, lethargy, and unsteady movement. They may become disoriented or collapse due to the strain on their bodies. If you notice your dog struggling to stand, walking unsteadily, or appearing unusually fatigued, it's important to act swiftly.


  • Vomiting and Diarrhea: Heatstroke can cause gastrointestinal distress in dogs. They may experience episodes of vomiting and diarrhea, which can further dehydrate their bodies and exacerbate the condition. If you observe these symptoms, it's vital to seek veterinary assistance promptly.


  • Rapid Heart Rate and Pulse: Another sign of heatstroke is an increased heart rate and pulse. You may notice your dog's heart beating faster than usual or feel an unusually rapid pulse when you place your hand on their chest. If you suspect heatstroke, pay attention to these vital signs as they can indicate the severity of the condition.


How to Treat Hyperthermia in Dogs?


#1 First Aid Measures

When dealing with hyperthermia, the first step is to lower your dog's body temperature gradually. Rapid cooling can lead to shock, so it's essential to approach this step with caution. Here are some first aid measures to take:


a. Move to a Cooler Environment: Immediately relocate your dog to a shaded area or indoors where the temperature is cooler. Ensure proper ventilation and a fan, if available.

b. Offer Fresh Water: Provide your dog with cool, fresh water to help hydrate and lower body temperature.

c. Wet Towels or Misting: Wet towels or mists can be applied to your dog's body, focusing on the head, neck, armpits, and groin areas. This helps in dissipating heat.

d. Utilize Cooling Devices: Cooling mats, vests, or towels specifically designed for dogs can aid in lowering body temperature.


#2 Seeking Veterinary Assistance

While initial first aid measures are crucial, it is essential to seek veterinary assistance immediately. Hyperthermia can cause severe internal damage and organ failure if left untreated. Contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic and inform them about your dog's condition. They will provide further guidance and may request you to bring your Fido in for professional medical care.


#3 Veterinary Treatments

Veterinarians have the necessary expertise and equipment to handle hyperthermia cases effectively. Upon arrival at the clinic, your dog will undergo a thorough evaluation. The veterinarian may perform blood tests, monitor vital signs, and administer specific treatments tailored to your dog's condition. These treatments may include:


a. Intravenous Fluid Therapy: Fluids are administered to combat dehydration, restore electrolyte balance, and support organ function.

b. Cooling Techniques: Veterinarians may use advanced cooling techniques such as cold water immersion, evaporative cooling, or recirculating cold water blankets to bring down your dog's body temperature.

c. Oxygen Therapy: If your dog is experiencing respiratory distress, supplemental oxygen may be provided to support their breathing.

d. Medications: In some cases, veterinarians may administer medications to address complications or reduce inflammation associated with hyperthermia.


Prevention of Hyperthermia in Dogs

 After your dog receives veterinary treatment for hyperthermia, follow the post-treatment care instructions provided by your veterinarian. Monitor your dog closely for any lingering symptoms or signs of complications. Keep in mind the following preventive measures to avoid future episodes:


a. Avoid Overexertion: Prevent your dog from excessive exercise during hot weather, especially in high humidity.

b. Provide Ample Shade and Water: Ensure your dog has access to shaded areas and an adequate supply of fresh water at all times.

c. Never Leave Dogs in Vehicles: Never leave your dog unattended in a parked car, even for a few minutes, as temperatures can rise rapidly.

d. Be Cautious during Hot Weather: Limit outdoor activities during peak heat hours and opt for walks or playtime in cooler parts of the day.

That's a wrap!

Hyperthermia in dogs is a serious condition that can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. If your dog has hyperthermia, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

There are several treatments available for hyperthermia, and the most effective one will be determined by your veterinarian based on the severity of the condition. With prompt treatment, most dogs make a full recovery from hyperthermia.

To prevent hyperthermia, it is important to keep your dog cool and hydrated during periods of hot weather and to never leave them in a car or other enclosed space for extended periods of time.