Heat Stroke in Dogs and Cats


The trouble with heat stroke in pets is not the diagnois...any fool with a thermometer has a good chance of getting the diagnois correct...the problem is keeping the patient alive. In this sense, heat stroke is similar to being shot with an arrow.

The trouble with this disease is that all kinds of terrible things happen inside the body when the internal body temperature rises over 4 degrees above normal. (Normal body temperature for both cats and dogs ranges from 100-102 degrees F)

The Blood Clots

The Intestinal system absorbs micro-organisms and toxins into the bloodstream

Cells die leading to all sorts of inflammatory reactions by the body.

And if that isn't enough...all kinds of other biochemical stuff goes haywire

EXAM: We notice a prostrated patient breathing a million miles an hour and we take it's temperature. Very High. Like I said, this part is a "no brainer". We go right to treatment:


Luke warm bath (we don't want to shock with over cool water if possible)

High dose Dexamethasone Injection to stablilize capillaries and minimize reactions

Atropine Injection

Start Antibiotic Injections

IV Fluids (This is the most Important Step of all)

B Vitamin injections

Oxygen therapy (we are learning that maximizing oxygen to the cells is life saving)

Consider AntiSerum IV to minimize the effect of endotoxins absorbed from the gut

Consider Oxyglobin to greatly increase tissue perfusion (very expensive)


Hospitalize until better. Usually these cases are quickly resolved...one way or the other.


Antibiotics to fight and prevent infections associated with intestinal leakage of bacteria

Antioxidants to minimize free radical damage


Uncaria tomentosa (an herbal remedy that I think helps the GI system)

CoEnzyme Q 10 to promote tissue perfussion

P/D Diet or other recovery diet. I also like to recommend Chicken Soup or other electrolyte source.

Buffered Aspirin to reduce blood clotting, DIC

Vitamin and Mineral supplementation for a while

Some cases aren't serious enough to warrant all of the above and that's great, but it's a fairly common misconception that all you have to do is "hose em down with water".

"Hosing down with water" is the First Aid treatment for heat stroke and is very helpful, but is not nearly enough if your pet is in the advanced stages of the disease. And I'm sure you've heard the stories...in the right conditions...especially inside parked cars...it doesn't take long.

Article submitted by: © Roger Ross DVM