Contributed by Cheryl Brady
Heat Stroke is one of the greatest and most heartbreaking dangers to our beloved pets. Your pet may suffer from heat stroke by simply taking the same walk or doing the same activities it has many times before- however this day may be a little hotter, sunnier, or more humid or they may not have fully recovered from being overheated during their last activity. It is important to know that dogs can only dispel heat through panting and through the pads of their feet. Heat stroke is deadly to our pets and must be recognized and treated quickly. Fortunately, by taking some preventive actions, paying close attention to your dog, knowing what symptoms to look for, and providing proper care and treatment quickly you can help protect your pet from heat stroke.
First and foremost, NEVER leave your pet alone in your car!
Always make sure when your pet is outside in warm weather:
They have fresh, cool water
They have cool shelter from the sun. They have a well ventilated (or even fan cooled) space that is
not on a hot surface
They have, if possible, a small pool with cool water
You limit their exertion and exercise
THESE TIPS FOR PREVENTION ARE HELPFUL, BUT DO NOT GUARANTEE THAT YOUR DOG WON’T GET HEAT STROKE-PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO YOUR DOG WHILE OUTSIDE IN WARM WEATHER!!
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Excessive drooling or foam
Tongue gets really long and large
Agitation or looking for a cool place
Dark or bright red tongue or gums
Lethargy or weakness
Stupor, staggering or confusion
Vomiting or diarrhea
Body temperature of 104 degrees or more (you should have a thermometer in your pet first aid kit)
IF YOU SEE ANY ONE OF THESE SYMPTOMS, GET YOUR PET VETERINARY ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY!
**NOTE that dogs with respiratory or heart conditions, overweight dogs, short-nosed breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs, etc… , and large heavy- coated dogs are at greater risk for heat stroke.**
Treatment while on your way to the Veterinarian
Get your pet out of the heat and off any hot surfaces (such as pavement)
Apply cool or tepid wet towels to body, head, around the neck and feet (DO NOT USE ICE OR VERY COLD WATER- dog must be cooled SLOWLY!) Once you have completed that process, gingerly once or twice, place an ice pack around the head or back of head.
If possible, run a fan on your pet
Do not force the pet to drink too much water or eat too much ice
IMMEDIATELY TAKE YOUR DOG TO THE VET
The goal is to get your dog’s temperature down to 103 degrees within the first 15 minutes- once it’s down to 103 degrees, stop the cooling process. You MUST still take your pet to the vet- heat stroke causes secondary problems that can be fatal to your pet if left untreated.
Hopefully, with the help of these tips, you and your dog can enjoy many happy and healthy years together- even on sunny, warm days!
Cheryl Brady is the Founder/Owner of Vet Care Express Animal Ambulance and a Certified Instructor for the American Red Cross in Pet CPR/First Aid. She has taught hundreds of pet owners how to be prepared, what signs/symptoms to look for, what’s normal and how to properly care for their pets should they have an emergency or need first aid. With her first- hand experience on the animal ambulance, Brady offers helpful insight and advice on how to best care for our four legged family members.