Now that we are in the depth of Summer, we wanted to take a minute to discuss a topic that is completely avoidable, Heat Stroke. Heat stroke is a serious and dangerous problem that can happen to our four-legged children. It is something that can happen very quickly and is 100% preventable.
Animals do not sweat as humans do. Although animals do have sweat glands in the pads of their feet, their primary way of cooling themselves is by panting.
Recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion is imperative to prevent heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion is defined as a body temperature over 103.0°. Signs of heat exhaustion include:
Lack of coordination
Dark red tongue
Increased heart rate
Lethargy or depression
If Heat exhaustion is not treated your pet is at risk of having a heat stroke. Heat stroke is defined as a body temperature over 105.8°. Heat stroke IS A LIFE THREATENING CONDITION.
Signs of heat stroke include but are not limited to:
Obtunded, or large, hard abdomen (caused by excessive panting)
Change in mentation – unaware of who you are or where they are
Loss of consciousness
Petechiae or pin point bruises noted on gums or skin
Rapid heart rate
Short-snouted dogs (pugs, bull dogs, etc.), dogs with long hair (light or dark in color), or obese animals are at higher risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Recognizing and treating the signs of heat exhaustion is the key to keeping your pet from having a heat stroke. If you see any of the signs above call your veterinarian immediately. In the mean time, place cool clothes in their arm pits, between their hind legs, or submerge in a cool bath. NEVER submerge in ice water as this will cause the body temperature to drop too rapidly and can cause shock. Cool circulating air, such as a fan, can also help. Offer small amounts of cool water, too large of an amount can make them vomit.
Keeping your pet’s time limited outdoors is crucial! If they must be outdoors offer plenty of shade and fresh, cold water. Never leave your pet in a car (anytime air temp is over 75°), even with windows down. Prevention is the key!