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Hyperthermia is an elevation in body temperature that is above the generally accepted normal range. Normal ranges do vary in dogs, but generally speaking, this means a body temperature above 39°C (103 °F).
Hyperthermia is semantically different from the definition of a fever. Fever is the body’s response secondary to elevated body temperature and is designed to create an environment in which viruses or bacteria can’t survive. Hyperthermia, on the other hand, is often due to environmental factors or secondary accidental causes. For example, exercises your dog on a warm sunny day.
Hyperthermia can affect any breed of dog but is more frequent in long-haired dogs and short-nosed, flat-faced dogs (also known as brachycephalic breeds). It can occur at any age but tends to affect young dogs more than old dogs.
Hyperthermia can be categorized as either fever on non-fever hypothermias; with heatstroke being a common form of the latter. Symptoms of both types include:
Dogs can’t respond to heat in the same way that we humans do. We have sweat glands all over our bodies that help us to regulate our temperature but dogs only have a few in their feet and nose. That’s why dogs rely on panting and external cooling to lose heat.
Because dogs can’t cool themselves down as well as us it’s important that you be extra careful to provide them with a cool, well-ventilated and shaded environment with access to clean, fresh drinking water. Dogs are very susceptible to hyperthermia (especially in summer) and it can happen a lot faster than you may think.
For example, crate training is important for dogs, but if you have a big dog, make sure your pooch has an extra large dog crate and is not kept inside for too long. A five-month-old puppy can be crated for six hours at most; a four-month old may be able to last three to five hours; and even grown dogs should not be crated for more than nine hours.
As well as good ventilation, shade, and water you should:
Hyperthermia is a very serious, life-threatening condition. It can cause damage to your dog’s internal organs, sometimes to the point where they stop functioning. This requires urgent treatment before it becomes fatal. Stay tuned with PetClever for more pet friendly tips!
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