Heat Stroke

Brought to you by Peterborough West Animal Hospital:


It’s great to enjoy summer with your pet.  But, it’s also the time when they have the greatest risk of injury and heat-related health problems.   At Peterborough West Animal Hospital our main focus is to keep your pet healthy and happy and make sure you get as much time with your loved one as possible! Here are some tips on keeping things cool this summer.

One preventable condition we want to caution people about is hyperthermia.  Hyperthermia is a term describing an elevation in body temperature.  This increase typically occurs as a response to a trigger, such as a hot environment.  When a dog is exposed to high temperatures, heat stroke or heat exhaustion can result.  Heat stroke is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.  Once the signs of heat stroke are detected, there is precious little time before serious damage – or even death – can occur.

Dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans – they release heat primarily by panting and they sweat through the foot pads and nose.  If a dog cannot effectively expel heat, the internal body temperature begins to rise.  Once the dog’s temperature reaches 41 degrees C (106 F), damage to the body’s cellular system and organs may become irreversible.

We all know that leaving your pet in the car in the heat, even with the windows down, is an absolute “no no”.  Something that many of us do not consider however, is taking your dog out for a walk on a day with high heat and humidity.  Even short walks can cause a dog’s body temperature to rise quickly.  At Peterborough West AH Towel DogPeterborough West Animal Hospital, Dr. Sargent saw a healthy young dog that had just walked a couple of blocks to the clinic and was starting to show signs of heat stroke.  Luckily, we were able to apply cool wet towels to his body, changing them every minute or two, and place him in front of a fan to get his internal temperature down to a safe level before we sent him home.  Our clients graciously allowed us to take a picture for this article so they could do their part in helping others understand how easily this can happen!

Here are a few tips from Peterborough West Animal Hospital to help prevent this from happening.  Along with the obvious prevention of not leaving your pets in a car on a warm day be sure to:


  • Avoid vigorous exercise on warm days.
  • When outside, opt for shady areas.
  • Always provide shade and plenty of fresh cool water for outside dogs.
  • Keep your walks to early mornings and later in the evening when the sun is not so intense (when it has cooled down a little).
  • Avoid exercising on hot pavement or hot sand beaches.
  • Keep fresh cool water available at all times.
  • Certain types of dogs are more sensitive to heat – especially obese dogs, dogs with heart conditions, older dogs, double coated breeds and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, like pugs and boxers.  Use extreme caution when these dogs are exposed to heat.

If you suspect your dog has heat stroke it is important to bring him to your veterinarian as soon as possible.  Before you leave, you can cool your pet by wetting him down with cool (not cold) water and increasing the air flow around him.  Even if you think he is doing better, it is important to have him checked out because he can be dehydrated and this also requires immediate attention.

Following these tips, you will be able to enjoy the summer heat and stay safe!

 At Peterborough West Animal Hospital, we are

“Pawsitively devoted to your best friend…”

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