Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue

Harlequin Haven
Great Dane Rescue

11567 St. Rt. 774
Bethel, Ohio 45106

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Heat Stroke

In the summer, it is very important to prevent your dog from overheating. Heat stroke is an emergency that requires immediate and prompt treatment. Dogs do not know when they are getting too warm therefore we as there owners must limit there time outside. When they are outside it is our responsibility to ensure that our pets have sufficient shelter from the sun, adequate cool water to drink, and a way of cooling off. Dogs do not tolerate high temperatures as well as we do, so remember if it is too hot for you it is too hot for them!

Monitoring your dog closely in the summer is not enough. Failure to realize that exercise and then confinement, whether in a hot car or crate is enough to send your dog's body temperature overboard. Leave your dog at home when you go to run errands, even if you think you can leave him in the car with the air-conditioning on. If the air-conditioning goes out your dog can be dead in minutes.  Leaving your dog in a hot car is almost a guarantee to bring on heat stroke. A hot car is like an oven, with temperatures that can rise an astounding 34 F per minute! 

Dogs don't know when to quit playing or even lying in the sun they think they are having fun. It is up to us to watch for signs of stress and put a halt to play or sun bathing when it gets to be too much. Water is essential to dogs, even more so during summer heat. Make sure your dog has lots of clean, cool water at all times and this includes in the house.

Old dogs or dogs with health problems are more susceptible then others. It is not uncommon for a dog to have a heat stroke in 80 F weather.

Dogs regulate their body temperature by panting, expelling heat, causing an evaporator reaction. If they cannot expel the heat fast enough, their body temperature rises. If your dog is showing the first signs of heat stroke, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, the first thing you must do is get him to a cool area. Many times, heat stroke occurs while the dog is confined, whether it is in a car or crate. Take the dog to shade, in front of a fan or in air-conditioning, and soak him with cool water. Do NOT use extremely cold or ice water. This will cause blood vessels to constrict and will stop the heat from escaping. Give your dog enough water to wet his mouth and throat, but do NOT allow your dog to drink large amounts!

Take your dog's temperature; this is done with a rectal thermometer. A dog's body temperature is normally between 101 F and 102 F. A rise of 3 F to a temperature of 105 F can be all it takes to put your dog into danger. At a temperature of 105 F, your dog can no longer cope with reducing his body heat and the oxygen demand goes up to where the dog cannot keep up, and his temperature continues to rise. Do NOT cover your dog, even with a cold towel, this will prevent the heat from escaping. Do NOT place him in a confined space; keep him with you, with windows down and air conditioning on high, to allow evaporation which will aid in the cooling process.

There is also a danger that your dog can become too cold. Monitor his temperatures and stop the cooling process as soon as your dog's temperature reads normal again.

When their temperature hits 108 F, the heart, kidneys, brain, liver, and intestinal tracts begin breaking down, and the damage can progress at an alarming rate. Even immediate treatment and effective cooling to bring his temperature down can leave the dog with internal damage. Most importantly get to the nearest vet!

Situations that can lead to heat stroke in dogs:

1. Being left in a car in hot weather.
2. Being on concrete or blacktop, outside without shade in hot weather.
3. Being of a short-nosed breed, especially a Bulldog or Pug.
4. Being muzzled while put under a dryer or an area that is hot.
5. Suffering from any condition that impairs breathing.

Remember the Early Signs of Heat Stroke:

Rapid breathing, dry mouth, throat and nose, rapid heart rate, and gums that leave their healthy color for dull, gray-pink, or bright red, the saliva is thick and glue like and dogs frequently vomit. If the condition is allowed to continue, the dog becomes unsteady and staggers, has diarrhea that can be bloody and he becomes progressively weaker. Even at the earliest stage of heat stroke, you may be fighting for your dog's life. You must get him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. These symptoms can be followed in minutes by collapse, seizures, coma and death.


Emergency measures must begin at once. Move the dog to a cooler area, such as an air-conditioned building or car. If the dog's temperature is over 104 F, or if unsteady on its feet, the dog should be cooled by immersion in a tub of cold water. If this is impossible, hose your dog down with a garden hose. For a temperature over 106 F, or if the dog is near collapse, give a cold water enema. A more rapid temperature drop is imperative. Cool to a rectal temperature of 103 F. Heat stroke can be associated with swelling of the throat. This aggravates the problem, and a cortisone injection by your veterinarian may be required to. No matter what get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.


1. Do not expose dogs with health issues or impaired breathing to prolonged heat.
2. Restrict exercise during the heat of the day in summer.
3. Leave you dog at home when you are running errands.
4. Crate a dog only in an open wire crate.
5. Provide shade and cool water to dogs when outside.

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