Heat stroke signs and sympotoms in humans and dogs

11:59 a.m. on June 24, 2010 (EDT)
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67 forum posts

With summer here and it looks like record temps already I wanted to address the heat safety with everyone and offer some links to a product that will help you your children and pets stay cool on the trail. The product is “Polar” personal cooling gear, I have used these for over 10 years and I swear by them so do my dogs I use these around the farm and always when I am on the trail I even have one for my trail horse and pack horse here is the link please take a moment to look at these products for the price, under $10.00 bucks for the human neck wraps you cannot beat them http://www.polar-products.com/index.php Now with that said I want to address the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what to do if for them, I am not a Dr. but I am a volunteer firefighter/paramedic and I volunteer with my local fire dept and with the a Shenandoah, VA SAR teams so here is some heat related info:

Heat Stroke in Humans
Temperature and humidity levels are rising, and our bodies have cooling mechanisms—how do they work and what should we do if they can’t keep up?
As warm-blooded mammals, we humans have an intricate temperature control system that constantly maintains our internal climate within about a five-degree range, even if there are wild fluctuations in the air around us. Many processes occur in concert to keep the body within this range—just above or below 36.8° C (98.2° F)—and these are collectively known as thermoregulation. It is as if we have internal thermostats. When it’s too hot, our bodies’ air conditioners turn on—we sweat and we turn red as the blood comes to the surface of our skin to dispel heat. And when it’s too cold, the heater kicks in—the blood moves to our core to limit its exposure to cold. As the air becomes extremely hot or cold around us, thermoregulatory processes work in overdrive; and sometimes they can’t keep up. It’s important to keep this in mind as we enter the extremely hot and humid conditions of summer. It is at these times that heat stroke can threaten our health and even life.

Clinically, there are two types of heat stroke. “Classic heat stroke” is common in the very young and very old and occurs when a heat wave descends on an area. “Exertional heat stroke” (EHS) affects otherwise healthy people who exert themselves to the extreme at work or play. To understand the differences between the two types of heat stroke and how they overlap, we must look closer at the mechanisms behind heat stroke in general. Temperature within the human body must be kept below a maximum point, because when cells are exposed to extreme heat—above 41.1°C (106°F)—they literally start to fall apart. In the most extreme cases, heat causes the denaturing of proteins and the literal melting of structural elements among other breakdowns. All of these microscopic changes lead to cardiovascular collapse, general organ failure, and ultimately, death. When ambient temperatures rise, the body handles it in a combination of ways. Radiation of heat—releasing heat into the air through the skin—is the main way the body rids itself of heat when temperatures are not extreme. However, when the temperature rises significantly outside, the most important way the body can release heat is through evaporation, better known as sweating.

To stay hydrated and produce sweat, it’s good to drink at least 2.5 liters of water—that’s one plus a fourth of the two-liter soda bottles you see at the store—per day. If you are an active, outdoor worker, add another two liters to that. Add even more if you are working intensely, but avoid drinking too much. Too much water can result in over-hydration, a condition where salt concentrations in the body are thrown out of balance.

Classic heat stroke tends to affect infants and the elderly, because they are more fragile in their physiology and are often cared for by others who may not properly gauge their water intake. When exposed to extreme temperature without adequate water consumption, they are unable to dissipate heat. EHS on the other hand occurs when, through excess activity, the body produces heat that it can’t get rid of fast enough. Combine this with heat outside and the body literally starts to cook. Sometimes, before heat stroke sets in, the body goes through a stage of heat exhaustion. This stage is not quite as dangerous as heat stroke and offers the person or their caretaker a chance to seek medical attention before the situation gets serious. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include the following:

• nausea

• vomiting

• fatigue

• weakness

• headache

• muscle cramps

• dizziness

In extremely hot conditions, heat stroke can take over. Sometimes circumstances drive the body directly into heat stroke without the interim phase of heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat stroke include the following:

• absence of sweating

• red or flushed skin

• shortness of breath

• rapid pulse

• hallucinations

• confusion

• agitation

• disorientation

• seizure

• coma

If any of these symptoms arise, it’s imperative that the person is moved to a cool place and provided immediate medical attention. In cases of heat stroke, progressively rapid rehydration and a cooler environment will enhance a return to temperature balance.

Heat Stroke in dogs

Heat Stroke in dogs can strike in minutes on hot, humid days, and may prove fatal if it's not treated promptly. The good news is that it's preventable and I've listed below the symptoms and, how to treat and prevent it, and the dogs most likely to suffer from heatstroke.

What is Heat Stroke? Heat stroke occurs when your dog is no longer able to maintain his normal body temperature of approximately 101F and it rises to 105F and above. At temperatures above 106F your dog's internal organs will start to breakdown, and if he's not cooled quickly enough, he will die. Even if you can bring his temperature down, he may well have suffered irreversible internal damage. Dog's regulate their temperature primarily through panting - on hot, humid days they are unable to cool their bodies effectively, and as a result their body temperature rises rapidly. If your dog's temperature exceeds 106F, you only have minutes to save his life.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke If your dog has heat stroke he will progressively show these signs:

* Excessive panting

*Pale gums, bright red tongue

*Disorientation and your dog doesn't respond to his name

*Increased heart rate

*Thick saliva


*Breathing difficulties

*Collapse; § Coma


Treatment: Heat stroke often occurs because a dog is confined, either in a car, kennel or crate; the first thing to do is remove your dog from where he was confined. Make sure your dog is out of the sun and has access to water but don't let him drink too much.

Cool him with cool/tepid water - either immerse him in a bath, gently hose him or apply cool towels to his body. Importantly do not leave wet towels on your dog and do not use very cold water - both prevent your dog form being able to cool himself.

Move your dog to an area where there is cool air circulating, such as an air conditioned room or stand him in front of a fan. The cool circulating air will help your dog to reduce his temperature. Keep monitoring your dog's temperature with a rectal thermometer; once it returns to normal stop the cooling process.

While you are cooling your dog down phone your local emergency dog clinic, explain the situation and perform any additional treatment they suggest before taking him to the clinic. Even if you manage to reduce your dog's temperature at home, take him to your vet for a thorough checkup - internal damage to your dog's organs might have taken place even though he recovered from heat stroke.

Dogs Prone to Heatstroke:

*Young puppies and older dogs

*Overweight dogs

*Dogs with an existing illness or recovering from illness or surgery

*Dog breeds with short faces - Bulldogs, Shar pei, Boston Terriers, Pugs - have narrow respiratory systems that easily get overwhelmed in hot and humid conditions

*Double coated breeds such as Chow Chows

*Dogs bred for cold climates such as Malamutes, Huskies and Newfoundlands.

Preventing Heat Stroke:

Be aware that the outside temperature can be a lot warmer than that shown on your thermometer -on humid days the relative temperature is much higher; Dogs really don't know when to stop - try and keep your dog's activity to a minimum particularly on hot and humid days; Exercise your dog early in the morning and/or later in the evening when the temperature is cooler; If possible keep your dog indoors during the heat of the day in a well ventilated or air conditioned room; and If your dog is outside during the day, make sure there is plenty of shady areas for him to lie in and he has access to cold water. If he likes water, put a paddling pool of water for him in a shady part of the garden so he can lie in that to keep cool, otherwise periodically spray him with cool water.

10:01 a.m. on June 25, 2010 (EDT)
1,663 reviewer rep
3,956 forum posts

Thanks rescue ranger,

We all need to be mindful of heat stress / exhaustion especially in the back country when medical help can be difficult to access.

Knowing the signs of heat exhaustion, and how to treat yourself or another person is something we should all brush up on this time of year, depending on where you live of course.

Thanks again.

11:33 a.m. on June 25, 2010 (EDT)
235 reviewer rep
649 forum posts

Nicely put together, thanks.

May 24, 2018
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