Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a very serious concern this summer.  With the temperatures rising so quickly most dogs have not had a chance to acclimate.  Heat stroke can be fatal and require intensive treatment.  Signs include heavy open mouth panting, muddy or very red colored gums, weakness, and collapse.  Once a dog has an episode of heat stroke, even mild, they will become more likely to have further episodes.

The best way to treat heat stroke is by avoiding it altogether.  Try not to exercise your pet during the heat of the day.  Early morning or late evening when the sun is down is the best time.  Even if it does not seem overly hot heat stroke can still occur, especially in dogs that have not been exercising much during the winter.  During exercise in the warmer weather your pet should have access to water and plenty of shade.

If you are concerned that your pet may have over heated it is important to have them seen by a veterinarian right away.  DO NOT PUT ICE ON YOUR DOG.  Spraying them down with tepid water is best and then letting the evaporation cool them.  When dogs become overheated they are unable to regulate their body temperature and can become too cold too quickly.  When their rectal temperature reaches 103 then active cooling should be stopped.

It is important to remember that dogs, just like people, will heat up after they stop running.  They should not be put directly into a kennel or confined after exercise.  They should be walked around for several minutes to cool down.
Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles. Your vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness and even death, even on a day that doesn't seem hot to you. And cracking the windows makes no difference.

Please pay close attention to the outdoor temperature, your pets physical conditioning, and choose exercise appropriately.  Labrador retrievers are very susceptible to heat stroke and playing fetch in the backyard can be enough to cause heat stroke.  Heat stroke can be prevented by using appropriate caution.