Preventing Heat Stroke in Pets
The summer months are approaching and with it comes the often oppressive heat and humidity. The best way to prevent a problem with heat is to help pets avoid it. Outdoor pets will need access to shade all throughout the day. Tree cover, an area easily accessed under a porch or a dog house with good ventilation are all good ways to keep animals cool. Providing access to clean water that can’t be easily turned over is imperative. NEVER leave your pet in a car, even for a short period of time. Cars can reach temperatures of 110 degrees very quickly even with the windows cracked. Leaving the air conditioning on helps but there have been cases where dogs have accidentally turned it off jumping around inside the car. Walk dogs during the cooler hours of early morning and late evening. Avoid walking dogs on asphalt surfaces, they are very hot and can easily burn the pads on your dog’s feet. Brachycephalic breeds (the short-nosed breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs), large heavy coated breeds, and dogs with heart or respiratory problems are at more risk for heat stoke.
Be aware of the symptoms of heat stroke: excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, staggering, stupor, seizures, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, coma and worst of all death. If you have the ability to take a temperature it will be above 104 degrees.
Beware of Heatstroke
If you suspect heat stroke, it is considered an emergency and you should seek veterinary attention immediately. You can help cool your pet by wetting it down with cool water (not ice water). You can offer ice cubes for the animal to lick until transport to a veterinary hospital. Just because you have cooled the animal down and it “appears” to be okay, do NOT assume everything is fine. Internal organs such as brain, liver and kidneys are definitely affected by body temperature elevation and blood tests and a veterinary examination are needed to assess this. There is also a complex blood problem call DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation) that can be a secondary complication to heat stroke that can be fatal.
Debbie Justice-Obley, DVM
April 29, 2016
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