It's essential for pet owners to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heatstroke and hypothermia in their furry friends, as these conditions can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, is a condition in which a pet's body temperature exceeds 103°F (39.4°C). The most common symptom of heatstroke in dogs is excessive panting. Other signs may include drooling, red gums, vomiting, diarrhea, mental dullness or loss of consciousness, lack of coordination of movements, and collapse.
If a pet's body temperature reaches 106°F (41°F) without any prior signs of illness, it is likely due to exposure to excessive external or ambient heat and is referred to as heat stroke. If the temperature rises to 107 °F to 109 °F (41.2 °C to 42.7 °C), it can lead to multiple organ failure and death. The only way to accurately determine if your pet is suffering from heatstroke is to take its temperature rectally. It is recommended to buy a dog-only thermometer for this purpose, as well as thermometer covers and lubricating gel.
If the rectal temperature exceeds 105°F, contact your vet immediately. If you are unable to take the rectal temperature, an ear thermometer made specifically for animals can be used as an alternative. However, it is not as accurate so make sure to inform your vet if you use this method. Early detection of heatstroke is key as it can be reversed if treated promptly. An overheated pet is a medical emergency and even if you manage to cool the pet down, you should seek medical treatment if you suspect that it has suffered a heat stroke.
Problems related to heat stroke such as kidney failure, respiratory arrest, abnormal heart rhythms, and seizures may not appear right away so prompt veterinary treatment is essential. Hypothermia occurs when a pet's body temperature drops below normal levels due to exposure to cold temperatures or prolonged immersion in cold water. Symptoms of hypothermia in pets include shivering, lethargy, weakness, pale gums, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from hypothermia, contact your veterinarian immediately.