It’s been a warm, dry spring. It’s only May but we’ve had many days that have been over 20 degrees already. It’s great for camping but are we thinking about how this affects the furry members of our families?
We have had many clients tell us they are just sick about the fact that their pet got heatstroke. They know that it can happen and try to prevent it but it still happens to pets every summer. Heatstroke occurs when a pet’s body temperature rises above 41 C after being exposed to excessive external or environmental temperatures or exercised in the heat of the day. Symptoms of heatstroke include excessive/frantic panting, excessive drooling, a bluish or bright red tongue, unsteady gait, lethargy, collapse, coma or even death.
What to Do If It Happens to You
- Remove your pet from the environment where they got overheated.
- Move your pet to shaded and cool environment, and direct a fan on her.
- If possible, determine rectal temperature and record it.
- Begin to cool the body by placing cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits, and in the groin region.
- Call your veterinarian – it is a medical emergency.
What NOT to Do
- Do not use cold water or ice for cooling.
- Do not overcool the pet.
- Most pets with hyperthermia have body temperatures greater than 41-42°C, and a reasonable goal of cooling is to reduce your pet’s body temperature to 38.5-39°C while transporting him to the closest veterinary facility.
- Do not attempt to force water into your pet’s mouth, but you may have fresh cool water ready to offer should your pet be alert and show an interest in drinking.
- Do not leave your pet unattended for any length of time.
While rapid cooling is important, you need to be careful. Using ice or very cold water is actually counterproductive as it causes superficial blood vessels to shrink, which in turn acts as an insulating layer of tissue to hold the heat in.
There are a few simple things you can do to minimize the risk of heat to your pet. They include:
- have long-haired dogs professionally groomed in the early summer so that they have less of an insulating haircoat;
- avoid taking your dog outdoors during the heat of midday;
- and NEVER leave your dog in the car – the inside temperature of a car can reach 48oC in minutes, so it’s best never to take a chance.