Pet Medical Emergencies: 3 Treatments Implemented At Animal Hospitals For Heat Stroke

Pet ownership in the U.S. has continued to grow at exponential rates, with approximately 164 million households owning at least one pet. If you're a part of that statistic, it's crucial for you to be aware of the most common medical emergencies that your pet may experience. Heat stroke is one of the more common deadly killers and occurs when your pet's core body temperature exceeds 105 degrees. Heat stroke can cause severe organ damage, so it's important to get your pet to an animal hospital as soon as possible. The animal hospital will normally recommend a combination of the 3 following treatments.

Oxygen Therapy

You've probably seen headlines in the news regarding how many pets have died after being left in a hot car for hours. As your pet's body temperature increases, physiological changes start to happen. Unfortunately, pets can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause the kidneys to fail, which will lead to acute kidney failure, damage the gastrointestinal tract, which leads to bacterial translocation, and clotting deficits or bleeding abnormalities.

To prevent the tissues from becoming damaged, many animal hospital will put the pet through oxygen therapy, which basically involves providing your pet with an extra supply of oxygen. Oxygen therapy improves tissue perfusion to vital organs, which can help lessen the damaging effects of heat stroke.

Antibiotics to Prevent Sepsis

Signs of organ failure caused by heat stroke may begin to emerge after 2 to 3 days. Since your pet's organs may be severely damaged, it is at highly at risk for sepsis. Sepsis is a situation when harmful pathogen microorganisms, like bacteria, manifest within the tissues and release toxins that are harmful to your pet. It can be a potentially life-threatening condition.

Depending on the type of bacteria or fungus detected in the blood, different types of antibiotics will be prescribed to fight off sepsis. The most common isolate is a gram-negative bacteria commonly known as E. coli. To target as many pathogens as possible, most animal hospitals will prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotics, like fluoroquinolone plus penicillin derivatives.

Electrolyte Replacement

Pets suffering from heat stroke will have lost a significant amount of electrolytes in their body due to experiencing a significant depletion of water. Electrolytes are minerals found in the blood that are responsible for regulating and controlling many important bodily functions. Some of the more important electrolytes include potassium, magnesium and calcium. It is unwise to force your pet to drink water filled with electrolytes, as the water will only aspirate into its lungs if its panting or cause further electrolyte loss by inducing vomiting.

As a result, the best option is to replace electrolytes intravenously. The animal hospital will have to customize the IV solution for your pet based on the concentration and type of electrolytes that are lost. Your pet's condition will be monitored for a few days in order to see whether the concentration of electrolyte found in the blood have returned to normal levels.


If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of a heat stroke, contact an animal hospital immediately. It is definitely a medical emergency. If you do not make an effort to treat and alleviate the symptoms of heat stroke on time, this condition can cause many severe health complications, like irreparable damage to your pet's vital organs. The staff at the animal hospital will need to monitor your pet's core body temperature for a few days, and how it is responding to the various treatments in order to determine whether your pet is healthy enough to be released. You can also click here for more information.