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What Are the Signs of Heat Stroke?

Updated on February 28, 2018

When you yourself are experiencing heat stroke, you may not notice it because it is impairing your brain functions. The hidden causes of heat stroke include having an intolerance to heat and could become a complication on an underlying related illness. Having hallucinations from heat stroke is not uncommon. Common signs of heat stroke other than taking out that trusty mercury glass thermometer and taking your core temperature are as follows from the Mayo Clinic,

  • Heartbeat racing
  • Breathing shallow and rapid
  • Not sweating, skin is dry
  • Confused and short tempered
  • Dizziness and light headedness
  • Pounding headache
  • Nauseous
  • Fainting

What if your pet is having a heat stroke? Your dog can't tell you in words. The first signs for heat stroke in pet dogs other than getting a thermometer out are; excessive panting because dogs don't sweat and a dark bright red tongue and gums. Certainly do not wait for stage 2 symptoms of staggering walk. It is too late to avoid damage at the last stage of seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting that will lead to coma or death. CAUTION: Do not use ice water to cool to fast!

The signs of heat stroke for a cat is similar to the signs for dogs except cat also lick themselves to stay cool. Drooling or foaming at the mouth is a bad sign. Even afterwards when you have cooled your cat down and it seems fine, should still take to a vet because of possible internal damage to the organs. Heat stroke is serious!

The signs of heatstroke in a pet bird are panting, holding wing away from body to cool off and agitation.

Safety Tips for your pets on Heat stroke

Soldier Dogs

Soldier Dogs!

Newly inducted NCOs, Staff Sgt. Rowan (left) and Staff Sgt. Beast (right) seem to proudly wear their new military service dog medals while listening to the Army Song
Newly inducted NCOs, Staff Sgt. Rowan (left) and Staff Sgt. Beast (right) seem to proudly wear their new military service dog medals while listening to the Army Song | Source
The special forces of 14 countries conducted the big joint military exercise "Cold response" in minus 30 degrees in Narvik, Norway. The picture shows an Austrian special forces trooper training parachuting with dogs. Land, air and sea special forces
The special forces of 14 countries conducted the big joint military exercise "Cold response" in minus 30 degrees in Narvik, Norway. The picture shows an Austrian special forces trooper training parachuting with dogs. Land, air and sea special forces | Source

Soldier Dogs

Yuma Proving Ground in southern Arizona is where highly motivated military top dogs train in the sweltering sun. How do the pros deal with preventing and treating canine heat stroke?

In the book, "Soldier Dogs, the untold story of America's canine heroes" by Maria Goodavage, on pages 151 - 158, chapter 28 titled, 'HEAT' is great information for any pet owner in ultra-hot conditions.

Soldiers train to carry the dog in a heat stroke and IV the dog to replace fluids - all the dogs have shaved patches on the front legs for this IV treatment. With digital rectal thermometers, the working dogs are checked for a regular body temperature of between 101 - 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Goodavage, heat stroke includes, "rectal temps above 108, unwillingness to work, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, uncontrolled panting, and seizures."

A sad episode was a when a thoughtless contractor left two dogs overnight in Phoenix, one dog was found dead, the other, "received three blood transfusions and massive amounts of fluid and medication ... remain in critical condition for ten days ... long term kidney and brain damage." The dog was retired since once having heat stroke that bad - can never be deployed ever again in a heat environment.

I recommend reading about these totally amazing dogs. But there is one problem. As I wrote on the Facebook page for the book "Soldier Dogs":

"There seems to be a dichotomy with Solder Dogs having a higher rank than the handlers yet are still considered 'equipment'. A gun does not have rank.

Perhaps this is a way to get Soldier Dogs recognized as canine personnel or nonhuman personnel under UCMJ."

TEAR JERKER: Chinchilla dying from heat stroke


Submit a Comment

  • ptosis profile imageAUTHOR


    8 months ago from Arizona

    Thank you.

  • docashp profile image


    8 months ago from india

    Nice and informative article.

  • ptosis profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Arizona

    stacy: Is that a yes, then Thank You. If a no - I'll remove it.

  • profile image

    Stacey Holland 

    6 years ago

    I am surprised to see one of my illustrations garnishing this web page. I understand that this is geared towards education and helping people. Had permission been requested, I would have granted it.

  • ptosis profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Arizona

    Now that I have a small dog that I take out with me hiking - I make sure my dog is OK. Dogs pant to keep cool and although the dog HATES it - I pat water on his body to make sure that he stays OK.

    I have an outdoor thermometer inside the car and I don't travel with the dog inside its kennel when it's too hot - even with all the windows down.

  • midnightbliss profile image

    Haydee Anderson 

    6 years ago from Hermosa Beach

    This happened to me once during a hiking excursion. The trek started at sea elevation and ended about 4500 feet above sea elevation. It was very hot outside with few trees for shade. Although I had plenty of water and stayed hydrated, my body just quit on me. I was almost to my destination when I got really dizzy and had to find shade quickly. It took about an hour for my core temperature to cool down. Scary stuff! Thanks for sharing symptoms of heat stroke.

  • 2besure profile image

    Pamela Lipscomb 

    8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    My husband works outside and this happened to him once. He though he was going to die. This can be very serious. Thank you for the information in this hub!


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