Heat Stroke- Prevention & Treatment

What is Heat Stroke?

Although a pet’s body temperature may become elevated due to infection (fever), it may also increase because of a warm and/or humid environment. Hyperthermia is a term used to describe an increased body temperature caused by warm environmental conditions. Severe Hyperthermia is commonly referred to as heat stroke.

• Hyperthermia can be a life-threatening condition and requires immediate treatment • All types of animals are susceptible to heat stroke, including humans

• We most commonly see dogs with heat stroke during the summer months, but outdoor cats can also be affected if they spend too much time lying in the sun

• A dog’s normal body temperature is 37.5-38.9 degrees Celsius, anything above this range requires immediate treatment.

Dog wearing green straw hat and sun glasses
How does Heatstroke happen?

The climate in the Okanagan Valley is generally very warm, especially from early April to late October. It is of the utmost importance during this period, that we take extra precautions to ensure our canine companions (and feline friends) don’t develop heat stroke.
Your Dog is at risk of developing heat stroke if ANY of the following conditions apply:
1. Warm/hot summer weather (this includes any temperature greater than 15°C, especially when the sun is out)

2. When an animal is left outdoors in warm conditions without adequate shade

3. When exercised in warm weather (this includes a short walk)

4. When left in a car on a relatively cool day (10-15°C); the temperature within a vehicle may increase by10-15°C within 15-30min. Never leave your pet unattended in a car!

5. Predisposing factors such as obesity or underlying disease, which can lead to a lower tolerance for warm weather

6. Certain dog breeds are at an even greater risk. These include brachycephalic or short nosed breeds (Pug, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, Boston Terrier, French bull dog, English bull dog, Boxer, Mastiff) and Arctic breeds (Husky, Malamute) to name a few.
Humans are able to regulate body temperature through perspiration (sweating.)Because dogs and cats are unable to sweat, they cool themselves down by panting. If you notice your dog panting, take them to a cool place.

What are the symptoms of heat stroke?

Initial signs of heatstroke in your pet may include restlessness and excessive panting. As the hyperthermia progresses, your pet may secrete large quantities of saliva (drooling), vomit and/or have diarrhea. Your pet may also become unsteady on their feet, develop impaired neurological function and in severe cases, collapse. You may notice the gums turning blue/purple or bright red in color.
What to Do:

• Remove your pet from the environment where the hyperthermia occurred/is occurring

• Transport your pet to your veterinary clinic (or the closet emergency clinic) immediately.
Severe hyperthermia is a disease that affects nearly every organ in the body, and simply lowering the body temperature fails to address the potentially catastrophic events that accompany this disorder. Heat Stroke is a potentially fatal condition and prompt veterinary attention is required. Without veterinary attention, prognosis for recovery is guarded to poor.
If you have additional questions about heat stroke and what you can do to keep your canine companion safe please call the clinic for more information.

The Doctors and Staff at Fairfield Animal Hospital, Westbank Animal Care Hospital & Central Valley Vet Hospital.


What’s a ‘Hot Spot’ and why does my dog get them?

What is a Hot Spot?
A hot spot is a common term used to describe a superficial skin infection in animals. Medical terms used to describe this infection include: moist dermatitis, pyotraumatic dermatitis or superficial pyoderma. The infection is a result of damage to the skin surface (usually from scratching/licking) allowing bacteria to over run the natural defense mechanisms of skin.
Dogs are most commonly afflicted with this condition.

hot spot

What Causes a Hot Spot?
Anything that causes irritation to the skin can result in a hot spot. Common causes of a hot spot include: bug bites (fleas/flies), allergies, excessive skin moisture (post swimming/bath), matted hair, scrapes/superficial cuts. When an irritation occurs dogs have a tendency to lick/chew at the area. The primary insult combined with the mechanical action of licking/chewing further aggravates the skin. The final result is a hot spot.
What are the Symptoms associated with a Hot Spot?
You may notice: scratching, chewing, licking, a foul odor (due to infection) and/or pain when the affected area is touched. Hot spots are most commonly found under the ear (in dogs that have floppy ears) and at the base of the tail, but can occur anywhere on the body.

hotspot 1

What can I do to prevent a hot spot from occurring?

We see a rise in the number of dogs with Hot Spots in the summer. Tips for prevention include:

1. Drying your dog thoroughly after swimming (which includes drying the ear canal). If your dog has a long hair coat (ex: golden retriever) and loves to swim, it is recommended to shave your pet’s coat (not to the skin, just enough to thin the coat). This will not only reduce the incidence of hot spots but also help keep him/her cool during those hot summer months!   2. Manage your dog’s allergies. In the summer allergies are rampant (for both dogs and people). The mechanical action of licking and chewing/scratching is one of the main causes for hot spot development. If you think your pet may have allergies, please book an appointment to speak with one of our veterinarians.
3. If you notice your pet licking/chewing, stop them and investigate for an area of irritation. Call the clinic, as prompt treatment helps to ensure your pet’s comfort.

How do you treat a hot spot?                                                                                                         Treatment involves shaving/clipping the affected area to allow the air to get to the skin. This also allows us to fully assess the infection. The area of infection is often much larger than initially suspected and can be very painful, so sometimes sedation is needed in order to shave and clean the infected area properly. Treatment may involve antibiotics (topical and/or systemic), pain, and anti-itch medication. An E collar is often placed on your pet to prevent further licking/chewing at the hot spot. Treatment depends on the severity of the hot spot, chronicity, and other confounding diseases that may be present.
If you would like to learn more about hot spots or think your dog may have a hot spot, please call your favourite vet hospital!

Together we can help keep your canine companion safe and healthy.
The Doctors and Staff at Fairfield Animal Hospital, Central Valley Vet Hospital & Westbank Animal Care Hospital.