Hyperthermia, or overheating, according to Dr. Dana A. Vamvakias, DVM, CCRT, cVMA, of K2 Solutions, is when the body temperature significantly exceeds the accepted normal temperature range of a healthy dog. Normal range for a dog is typically between 99.5°F-102.5°F.
There are two main types of hyperthermia that can be seen in healthy dogs:
According to Dr. Vamvakias, an elevated temperature alone does not mean a heat injury. There is no magic number that translates to heat injury. A dog may have an elevated temperature but may not be in a heat crisis. With working dogs, it is not uncommon for dogs to reach temperatures above 106°F with no evidence of physiological injury or distress.
The treatment starts with the obvious: stop the activity of the dog and cool her immediately.
What is important is not how high the temperature goes, but how long the temperature stays at the excessive level.
The best and cheapest way to start the cooling is to use cool water from a hose, or partially submerge the dog’s body in a cool swimming pool.
Focus on cooling the main arterial and venous regions by applying hose water to the groin, armpits and jugular regions.
Towels submerged in icy water can be applied over the back and head while the underside is being sprayed.
Place the dog in the shade, by a fan, or in air conditioning.
Stop cooling a dog when his temperature reaches 103°F to avoid rebound hypothermia.
Hyperthermia can occur any time of year, but dogs may be especially prone to hyperthermia in the spring when temperatures can fluctuate drastically from day-to-day and from night-to-night. Dogs need time to become acclimated to the temperature changes as the weather begins to warm. High humidity can exacerbate or accelerate hyperthermia.
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