Aldie Vet Heat Blog Post 2

The Dog Days of Summer

Heat Exhaustion vs Heat Stroke

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:

  • Excessive Panting
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • 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
  • Seizures
  • Petechiae or pin point bruises noted on gums or skin
  • Pale/White gums
  • 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!

 

Aldie Vet Heat Blog Post

 

Sad doberman dog, not a lost pet though

How To Avoid A Lost Pet

Unfortunately, pets get lost on a daily basis.  Microchipping your pet is the easiest and most likely way to ensure he will be returned to you.  While identification via a tag on your pet’s collar is great, most pets get lost due to an ill-fitting collar.  According to a study by the ASPCA; 50% of dogs and 75% of cats are not wearing a collar when they are found and brought into a shelter.  Other means of permanent identification would be a tattoo, these are usually done inside the ear or inside of a hind leg.  This allows for easy identification without specialized equipment.

Microchipping is a safe and easy way for your pet to be identified if it ever gets lost.  Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are injected with a needle under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades.  They are encased in biocompatible material and have an anti-migration cap to help prevent movement in the pet’s body.  Once a microchip is registered that information will remain attached to that chip.  If you ever move or change your contact information it will be important to update your microchip information.  According to Home Again Microchips, only 10% of microchips are actually registered after they are implanted.  Remember it doesn’t do you any good to microchip your pet if you don’t register the chip!

Another great way to ensure your dog is safe and by your side when outdoors is to make sure you have a properly fitted collar and leash.  Collars should fit snugly, you should be able to get two fingers under the collar comfortably, but not be able to pull it over your dogs head.  We also don’t recommend walking your dog with a flexi-lead.  While these allow great freedom if you are out playing ball, for most walks they allow your dog to get too far from you.  It’s not uncommon for a dog to take off after something (a squirrel or another dog) and when they hit the end of the flexi-lead it is yanked from the owner’s hand.  A short 6-10’ nylon leash with a handle is preferred because it will be harder for your dog to get away from you.

The last defense you have to prevent your dog from getting away from you is good obedience.  Even a well-trained dog could be tempted not to listen if they are hot on the heels of an elusive squirrel.  You should practice having your dog come, stay, and sit in all types of situations while they are on a leash and safe.  If your dog will listen to you during the most hectic situations, he will most likely listen to you in an emergency situation.  It’s not enough for your dog to come and stay in a quiet home environment.  It’s important to practice these skills in all types of situations; it will also increase your dog’s confidence in himself and your bond together as a team.

The best defense against your dog getting lost is to prevent it from happening.  Practice safe walking technique and good obedience.  But always be prepared just in case with clear ID tags and a registered, current microchip.