How to detect heat stroke

Heat stroke is defined as a state of extreme elevation of body temperature (41ºC–43ºC) resulting in thermal injury to tissues, which occurs when heat generation exceeds the body’s ability to dissipate it.
What causes heat stroke?
- Excessive environmental heat and humidity (caused by a hot day or being enclosed in an unventilated room or a car).
- Upper respiratory tract (nose, nasal passages, throat and windpipe) disease that inhibits breathing.
- Poisonous compounds (strychnine, slug and snail bait) can lead to seizures, which can cause an abnormal increase in body temperature.
- Excessive exercise.

Factors that increase the risk
- Age (very young/very old).
- Heat intolerance due to poor acclimatisation to the environment (such as a heavy-coated dog in a hot geographical location).
- Obesity, thick hair coat, poor heart/lung conditioning.
- Underlying heart/lung disease.
- Increased levels of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism).
- Short-nosed, flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds.
- Dehydration, insufficient water intake, restricted access to water.

Signs of a heat stroke
- Severe panting with excessive and profuse salivation.
- Dehydration with sunken eyeballs, dry mouth.
- Extremely increased body temperature – above 103°F.
- Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body.
- Passing of only small amounts of urine or sometimes in more severe cases no urine at all.
- Rapid heart rate and irregular heart beats.
- Cardiopulmonary arrest and shock.
- Blood clotting disorder manifested by blood in vomiting and stool.
- Changes in mental status, manifested by seizures, muscle tremors, wobbling, incoordinated or drunken gait.

How can it be managed?
Methods of cooling include soaking with lukewarm water, covering the pet with towel soaked with lukewarm water and placing a fan in front of pet to maximise heat loss through radiation and convection.
In every case of heat stroke, the goal of treatment is to increase organ perfusion. This is best accomplished through administration of intravenous fluids. If things get worse, go to a vet.

Readers’ corner
Animal kingdom

We are Zorawar and Vir Sandhu, studying in the 3rd and 5th standard, in Patiala. We have a two-and-a-half-year-old Golden Retriever – Max, and a two-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback – Polo.

Giving them company is our 10-year-old pony – Bill. And to get some yummy honey we have thousands of bees in six bee boxes.


All our pets live in harmony, though Bill, the pony bites and kicks! Max enjoys eating a bee or two when he can. Polo is the family’s royal guard. Max is the family’s adorable cuddle who can’t resist chewing the water pipe. While Polo, a complete mama’s boy, steals anything within reach. Bill and Max love each other... but Polo enjoys an occasional nip of Bill’s backside.

Sundays are spent managing the apiary, hoping for another honey harvest and grooming our doggie babies. So that’s from the Sandhu household in Patiala. Hope you enjoyed our pet story.
Regards, Zorawar and Vir Sandhu
Zorawar and Vir with (from left to right) Polo, Max, and Bill, the pony

Are you a proud pet parent? Have a cute cat story to share? Maybe your guinea pig is giving you trouble? Whatever is your creature companion, we are here to listen to you.
Send your photos, queries and stories to [email protected]

Dr Aradhana Pandey

End of the article

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