Heatstroke Treatment from Our Veterinarian in Leonardtown

Heatstroke, sometimes called sun stroke, is the unfortunate result of extremely high body temperature that can occur due to climate conditions (heat and humidity). Heat stroke can also result from leaving your pet in a too-hot, enclosed environment (like a parked car), excessive exercise, or a combination of factors. If your pet appears to be suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, you may need to see your emergency veterinarian near Leonardtown right away. Heat stroke can be life threatening because it can cause vital organs to shut down.

German Sheppard sitting in a hot field.

What is Heatstroke?

When your pet becomes overheated, and can’t cool down, they may begin experiencing the effects of heatstroke. Pets can only cool down by panting and sweating from their paw pads, so heat related illness can come on quickly and have devastating results. If your pet suffers from a chronic disease such as heart problems or if s/he is obese, these conditions can make heatstroke more likely. Dehydration makes the overheated condition worse, so make sure your pet always has access to clean, fresh, cool water and shade or air conditioning if needed.

Symptoms of Heatstroke in Animals

Visit your St. Mary's County veterinarian near Leonardtown at our animal hospital if your pet shows the following signs after being in hot conditions or exercising. Poisoning can also bring on a heatstroke emergency, so take these symptoms seriously even if no heat exposure has occurred:

  • Panting and difficulty breathing
  • sweating paw pads (these are the options pets have to cool down)
  • Dark red gums and/or around the eyes
  • Irregular heartbeats and rapid pulse
  • Drooling
  • Above normal rectal temperature, over 103 degrees
  • Limited urination, producing a small amount of urine or none
  • Nausea and bloody vomiting
  • Bloody or tarry stool
  • Seizures
  • Unsteady on their feet
  • Losing consciousness
  • Shock
  • Vital organ damage, which may be deadly

Treating Heatstroke at Home

Never use ice or freezing water to suddenly cool your pet down, but rather cool him or her gradually by:

  • Spraying cool water on your pet’s fur
  • Immersing your pet in cool (not frigid) water
  • Wrapping wet towels around your pet
  • Using portable fans
  • Applying isopropyl alcohol to foot pads and skin under the front legs and near groin
  • Making sure your pet has cool drinking water nearby, without forcing him or her to drink.
  • Measuring temperature using a rectal thermometer

Even if your pet seems well again, after you get the temperature down, please bring your pet to our animal hospital for an exam. Our veterinarian near Leonardtown may run some tests, such as urinalysis to evaluate kidney function, and check the heart and additional major organs to ensure there have been no lasting ill effects from heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Advanced Treatment for Pet Heatstroke in St. Mary's County

If necessary, we can treat serious heatstroke with intensive care and help organs to begin functioning normally again. If heatstroke and elevated temperature are still present, we may need to keep your pet at our animal hospital until their temperature is stable and normal. Intensive care is indicated for organ failure. We may give your pet supplemental oxygen, IV feeding or a special diet temporarily to help your pet recover from serious heatstroke.  

Heatstroke is a Veterinary Emergency: Get Immediate Care at Breton Veterinary Hospital in Leonardtown, MD

Contact Breton Veterinary Hospital at 301-475-7808 to make an appointment, even after you've gotten your pet's temperature back to normal. Don't hesitate to call the MD Emergency Vet Numbers provided by Breton Veterinary Hospital at 410-535-9722 or 301-638-0988 and we'll tell you to come in right away.

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