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Hyperthermia or Heat Stroke

Hyperthermia or Heat Stroke

By Roxanne Allen SVT


Hyperthermia is where the body temperature is above the accepted normal range. A normal temperature for cats and dogs is between 100.5-101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. A high temperature can be caused by internal factors that change the body’s temperature set point such as infections, severe inflammation, brain lesions, or endocrine disorders.  A high temperature can also be caused by external factors such as excessive exercise, expose to elements, etc.

Febrile patients can come in seeming sleepy or lethargic. These animals typically have wounds, viral infections and/or bacterial infections.  Treatment for these pets include a complete veterinary examination along with therapies such as anti-biotics, prescription anti-inflammatories and IV fluids.

Heat stress, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are stages of hyperthermia. A common cause is a pet being in a very hot environment with no shade or water. Treatments include active cooling, IV fluids and supportive medications.

In the past couple weeks, we have seen more animals with heat stroke than we have before. It seems like most of the pets that have come in, were either brachycephalic (flat faces/short noses) or darker colored fur. We just need to remember that animals cannot sweat like we can when we get hot. Once they start to overheat, it can be hard to get them back to a normal temperature. This is why experts agree not to leave your animals in the car when it is warm outside. Once the pet’s temperature gets over 106-109 degrees Fahrenheit they usually don’t recover. One way to avoid heat stroke is to make sure that your pet has lots of water that they can easily get to and some shade to sit/lay in during these very hot days.

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