Early recognition of heat stroke is extremely important. Signs of heat stroke can include some or all of the following: extreme panting or difficulty breathing, increased salivation, a temperature of 106 F or greater (a normal temperature is up to 102.5 F), deep pink gums, a fast heart rate, vomiting or defecating blood, muscle tremors, seizures, or difficulty walking, and coma. Heat stroke is usually caused by excessive exercise in hot and/or humid conditions, but can also be caused by enclosure in an unventilated room, car or grooming dryer cage, or a lack of water intake. Animals with short snouts, such as pugs, or animals with underlying diseases of the heart or airway can develop heat stroke more easily. Overweight animals and those with a very heavy hair coat are also at higher risk of developing heat stroke.
If you suspect heat stroke in your pet, you should notify a veterinarian immediately. Prior to transporting your pet to the veterinarian, you should begin trying cooling measures. This is done by spraying the pet with water or immersing in water prior to transport. Always avoid ice, which can constrict blood vessels and slow the cooling process, especially if the pet shivers. Your veterinarian will provide further cooling measures and any necessary supportive care. Most heat stroke patients need hospitalization with intensive care for several days. Heat stroke can affect all body systems, causing death, so early recognition and treatment is key to survival.
Pets that experience an episode of heat stroke are predisposed to additional episodes, so prevention is also important. To prevent heat stroke, have plenty of fresh water for your pet at all times, do not leave pets in the car on hot days, and avoid exercise during the hotter times of day. Heavily coated dogs that stay outside during the day should also have shade and a baby pool of cool water in which to stand.