Pets have heat stress too - heat stroke in dogs and cats

Summer is approaching, have your cats and dogs ready for it? Taiwan is hot and humid in summer, people suffer from heat stroke, as well as dogs and cats.
Pet Care

Summer is approaching, have your cats and dogs ready for it?

Taiwan is hot and humid in summer, people suffer from heat stroke, as well as dogs and cats.

Firstly, to the dog and cat owner

Human regulate body temperature by perspiration, how about dogs and cats? How do pets regulate body temperature?

Can dogs and cats perspire? Sweat glands are divided into two types, "Merocrine sweat gland" and "Apocrine sweat gland". Bureau of sweat glands will secrete water and salt, by sweat in the body surface to mediate the body temperature evaporation, apocrine sweat glands secrete slightly viscous liquid. Pets hair follicles have apocrine sweat glands, but the secretion of sweat glands but there is only the foot.

All human body surfaces have sweat glands, so when the weather is hot, people sweat to regulate body temperature, while the dogs and cats are open mouth for heat emission or heat radiation through the body surface and other methods to regulate body temperature.

With thick fur, long hairs or originally living in cold areas, such as Huskies, St. Bernard, Akita, Shiba Inu, etc., as well as Bosei cats, Himalayan cats, Scottish Folds, Russian blue cats and so on. Because thick hair heat poor, be sure to change their summer wear, shaving to help heat.

Heat stroke in outdoor, should be awarded when traveling in summer. While activities in progressing under the burning sun, it likely to happen when there is no shelter.

Indoor heat stroke, compared to outdoor heat stroke, indoor heat stroke occurs more often. It usually results from the owner leaves the pet at home without any temperature control system in the room. It is recommended that when people left from home, be sure that windows is open, fans open, or other cooling products operating to avoid pets heat stroke in the room.

  • What to do when a pet sunstroke?

Pets sunstroke will mouth drooling, keep breathing, walk shaking, sluggish or even coma, epileptic seizures. When we found that the priority is to cool down, immediately to leave the hot environment, place in a cool place to give a pet a lot of cold water to drink, wipe the body with water or cold shower, flushing and other psychological methods to help cool down. What if the cooling action still cannot improve the situation of gasping, please give medical aid immediately. Meanwhile, to cool down the temperature of the pet, it is important to observe mental condition of the pet. When mental status is poor, sluggish, or there is no response to the call, or even a coma, immediately seek medical advice.

Second, to the professional veterinarian

First, the basic introduction:

the reason

● heated temperature , direct sunlight with no shelter, stay in car alone.

● High-intensity exercise, such as hunting, chasing and so on.


● Young and elderly dogs and cats are more likely to occur.

● Short nasal and flat face species, frigid species, fat, dark or long hair species.

● Have had pharyngeal paralysis, breathing difficulties, had throat surgery dogs.


      Shortness of breath, excessive gas, poor response to calls, sluggish shaking, and even coma, cramps.

 (If throat paralysis, dysphagia, medication for cardiovascular disease, history of epilepsy, etc., if possible, include a potential risk assessment.)

Physical examination

      Rectal temperature> 40 ℃, but while the treatment it has been cooled down. Mucosal congestion redness, gasping (upper respiratory tract sound).

Pathological changes

● Body: High body temperature activates inflammatory cytokines, alters granulocytes, disrupts proteins and enzymes, leading to cell necrosis.

● Pulmonary: Pulmonary alveolar cells and pulmonary microvascular rupture, resulting in the accumulation of protein-rich liquid in the bronchus, causing inflammation and lower gas exchange rate, leading to non-cardiac pulmonary edema, severe hypoxemia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS ).

● heart: high temperature, low perfusion, acidaemia and other cardiomyocytes and Parkinson's cells can cause ischemia and necrosis, leading to arrhythmia, and even myocardial loss of function.

● Circulatory system: Vascular epithelial cells trigger activation of clotting factors due to thermal injury, resulting in a systemic inflammatory reaction leading to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).

● Kidney: Because of direct thermal injury, hypoxia, low blood perfusion, etc., causing acute kidney damage. It is common that severe heat stroke causes kidney failure.

● Nervous System: Excessive inflammatory reactions and micro-thrombosis cause brain edema and neuronal cell necrosis.

Second, the diagnosis

It can be identified from body temperature directly, physical examination and the main symptoms. It is need to monitor and diagnose heat stroke (thermal injury) caused by secondary complications.

Recommended testing data are required.

● Complete physical examination (including neurological examination): mental condition after heat stroke is an important indicator of cure.
● Blood analysis: neutropenia is the most common, few illness animals due to leukocytosis migration, so the blood leukocyte low. Sick animals often have low platelet performance, or during hospitalization will be converted to low platelet status.
● Blood biochemistry: The liver and kidney index usually rises, with hypoglycemia and creatinine indicating about a 50% chance of poor prognosis.
● Coagulation: poor coagulation poor prognosis.

Third, treatment

Overview of treatment

  1. Poor mental status and rapid intubation can improve breathe, to increase the amount of oxygen it helps dissipate heat.
  2. To determine the causes of heat stroke and the potential reasons.
  3. To deal with complications, such as diffuse intravascular coagulation (DIC), acute kidney injury, oliguria or anuria, sepsis, cerebral edema and so on.

Emergency general treatment

  1. Cooling: intravenous injection at room or soak in cold water to cool, which should avoid excessive rapid vasoconstriction. More aggressive methods of cooling include: injecting sterile liquid into the bladder at room temperature, cold water lavage in the stomach. Peritoneal lavage is not recommended because of the high invasiveness. Emergency external cooling method When the rectal temperature dropped to 39.2 ~ 39.4 ℃it must be interrupted to avoid the risk of hypothermia.
  2. If hypoglycemia, intracranial pressure is too high, cramps, irregular heartbeat, according to the status of sick animals for treatment.
  3. If the coagulation function is very poor or there has been bleeding, treatment or plasma therapy.
  4. Extensive antibiotics, such as cephalosporin and quinolone antibiotics, in order to reduce the risk of infection caused by bacterial metastasis due to the deterioration of the visceral circulation.

Possible complications

● Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)

● Acute kidney injury, oliguria or no urine

● Digestive tract corruption, bacterial infection

● Acute liver damage

● Multiple organ failure syndrome

● Bone marrow loss of function

Monitor is recommended

  1. Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  2. Breathing and oxygenation (if clinically needed)
  3. Neurological evaluation
  4. If the clinical needs, every 2 to 4 hours testing: blood pressure (target: systolic blood pressure> 100 ~ 120mmHg) and blood glucose (target: 80 ~ 140mg / dl)
  5. Urinary exclusion (target:> 1 ~ 2ml / kg / h)
  6. Blood coagulation function
  7. The number of platelets

Fourth, after healing

Clinical symptoms are varied in accordance to the level of severity.

The body temperature at the very beginning of the visit which cannot be used as a after healing indicator.

Following conditions define as negative after healing; clotting problems (150% prolonged clotting), nucleated red blood cells > 18/100 white blood cells, low blood sugar (<2.6 mg / dl), creatinine> 1.5 mg / dl, epilepsy, delayed treatment, obesity.

Fifth, important matters

Avoid over cooling down attribute to hypothermia in sick animals.

Able to avoid jugular vein blood before returning to normal coagulation function.

If the short-term or paralyzed sick animals need to monitor the respiration.

Sixth, training owners

Hot days to leave pets in the car is dangerous. Having upper respiratory tract disease or continued exercise under burning sun are high risk to heat stroke.

In hot weather, pets have symptoms of heatstroke, such as gasping, sluggish shaking, etc, which deem to be very urgent sign. Be sure to cool down immediately and consult a veterinarian. If your pet is not in good condition, you must seek for medical aid immediately


1.Clinical Veterinary Advisor Dogs and Cats 3rd Edition p. 437~439

2.Heat stroke in dogs: a retrospective study of 54 cases (1999-2004) and analysis of risk factors for death. J Vet Intern Med 20(1):38-46, 2006