Don't Get HeatedMay 23, 2016
Living in Wisconsin, summer often feels like it may never come – but it’s that time of year again, and with summer comes heat. Nothing beats that first warm, sunny day! Everyone heads outside with his or her pets for a walk or a run. It’s time for endless hours of fetch, swimming, or time at the dog park. But as pet owners, we have to remember how that heat can affect our furry friends.
Let’s talk about heat stroke
Animals can over heat from numerous circumstances; however, in summer, we think of excessive exercise, extreme outdoor temperatures, and being left in non-ventilated locations, such as cars. Dogs with short noses and underlying respiratory issues or overweight animals can overheat more rapidly, as they may not be able to breath adequately and dissipate heat. A normal temperature in a dog ranges between 99 - 102.5 degrees. If the core body temperature exceeds 105 degrees, the animal is at risk for internal organ damage.
What does heat stroke look like?
Dogs that have heat stroke may excessively pant, be lethargic, vomit, have diarrhea, become disoriented, and collapse. In severe cases, bleeding, bruising, and seizures may occur.
What do you do if you think your dog is over heated?
If a situation occurs in which you think your animal has heat stroke, a veterinarian should evaluate him or her immediately. Ideally, a rectal temperature should be taken to assess how high the temperature has risen. Active cooling should be started as well. This consists of using cool water or cool, wet towels on the entire body of the pet. It is very important to NOT use ice or very cold water on your animal, as this can cause further complications such as clotting and bleeding issues. Once the pet’s temperature has come down to 102.5 – 103 degrees, the cooling process should be stopped.
What should you expect at the vet clinic?
Every pet can react differently to heat stroke. A veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam to assess how your pet has been affected. Blood work will likely be done to see if your pet has complications such as clotting problems, low glucose, and kidney or liver dysfunction or electrolyte imbalances. In critical cases, pets may require several days of hospitalization with intravenous fluids and multiple medications.
We all like a little sunshine and fresh air in the summertime; just make sure that your furry friend doesn’t over heat!
- Kerri Wiedmeyer, DVM, for Fetch magazine
WVRC - ER Veterinarian