Vet In McKinney, TX: Hyperthermia And Heat Stroke By Dr. Ed Mapes, Stonebridge Animal Hospital

Vet McKinney TXThe onset of high ambient temperatures, especially when combined with elevated humidity, brings about increased risk of hyperthermia in our pets.  A vet in McKinney, TX knows that normal body temperatures range up to about 102 degrees Fahrenheit in dogs and cats. Hyperthermia is an elevation in body temperature from exposure to external heat that is above these normal levels.

Hyperthermia can arise from medical abnormalities such as fever, inflammation, hyperthyroidism, excessive exercise, brain lesions, and a rare reaction to anesthesia.  Externally mediated hyperthermia is caused by prolonged exposure to excessive outdoor temperatures.   Animals with any of the above medical conditions will be especially susceptible to overheating when exposed to outdoor heat and humidity.

Hyperthermia and heat stroke can occur in any animal, but the very young and older animals are more susceptible.  Brachycephalic breeds, long-haired individuals, obese and very muscular breeds, and those with certain pre-existing medical conditions are also predisposed.

Animals do not perspire, but breathe more heavily to dissipate heat. This is far less efficient and makes them less adaptive to high temperatures than are humans.  They begin panting quite soon after exposure to the heat, become less active, begin to drool, avoid activity, and seek out cooler places to control body temperature.  Symptoms of overheating include:

  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Reddened gums
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting in the earlier stages that can lead to vomiting of blood
  • Wobbly gait
  • Muscle tremors
  • Mental confusion
  • Respiratory distress
  • Collapse
  • Seizure
  • Unconsciousness

A vet in McKinney, TX will tell you that rapid recognition of symptoms is important in successful management.  Removing the animal from hot temperatures is the important first step to take. Immersing the pet in cool water (not ice water) with air from a fan can bring down body temperatures, but cooling should be done gradually. Stop measures if the animal begins to shiver. Isopropyl alcohol evaporates quickly, and application to the groin and armpits is effective in dissipating heat.

Examination by a vet in McKinney, TX, especially in cases of more severe symptoms, is strongly recommended – and emergency measures may be necessary.  Close monitoring of body temperatures, heart function, mental status, shock, blood clotting disorders, kidney function, and acid/base status are very important.  We typically draw blood for testing, insert an intravenous catheter and begin appropriate fluid therapy, give supplemental oxygen, and administer medications for shock in these cases.  Monitoring the EKG heart rate/rhythm, blood oxygenation, and acid/base status are very important at the outset and throughout treatment.

Prevention is of course the best medicine in these cases.  Any animal that experiences a hyperthermic event is more prone to suffer another. Be especially vigilant with older pets, those with ongoing medical conditions, young animals, brachycephalic and the very muscular breeds.

Avoid exposure during the hottest times of day or leaving pets in areas more susceptible to excessively hot temperatures such as enclosed vehicles, sunrooms, closed garages, and even yards without shade.  Always supply ample amounts of fresh water and be sure that they can escape from the heat.


Call the best vet in McKinney, TX, Stonebridge Animal Hospital, at (469) 507-2433 for all of your pet care needs.  Or visit to find out more about us.


Vet McKinney TX
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
5913 Virginia Parkway
McKinney, Texas 75071

Photo Credit: sjallenphoto

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