Overheating

You need to make a clear distinction between a dog that is simply very warm because of high temperatures and a dog that is truly heat-stressed.

Heatstroke (heat-stress or hyperpyrexia) is an emergency situation. Dogs become heat stressed when confined in some overheated enclosure such as cars. Over-exercising in the heat of the day, locking dogs in pens with no shade or even leaving them in a trailer have all resulted in death from heat-stress.

The symptoms of heat-stress are collapse, hyperventilation and a very elevated body temperature. The gums may be initially be maroon red, but  as shock continues, gum colour changes to pale witha greyish tinge.

Treatment is initially aimed at getting the dog’s body temperature down; ice packs, a cold bath and cool air-conditioned air will assist in this endevour. Shock must be treated with intravenous fluids, medications to reduce brain swelling and oxygen.

The dog could appear to return to normal but still die 24 hours later if ‘malignant hyperthermia’ has been reached. This is the critical body temperature that once reached, will damage all the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) in the body. If the occurs, all the capillaries in the brain begin to rupture, and the dog will have seizures and usually die within a few hours.