Pet heat stroke
South Africa can get extremely hot and our pets are prone to suffer from heat-stroke. Dogs don’t sweat like humans do. They do have a few sweat glands in their foot pads, but mostly they control their temperature by panting. When panting is not enough their body temperature rises. This can be fatal if not treated immediately. Unfortunately the biggest cause for heat stroke is just a lack of care from the owner e.g: leaving a dog in a hot car or going for a walk without water in the middle of the day.
Is my dog at risk?
There are a number of risk factors that could place your dog at risk of heat stroke. Certain breeds are also more susceptible e.g your Brachycephalics ( all your flat nosed breeds). Dogs with certain medical conditions especially breathing or heart problems are more prone to this condition.
Prevention is better than cure and these following steps will minimize the risk for your pet getting heat stroke:
- NEVER leave your pet in a car.
- Always have water and shade available for your pet.
- Never exercise with your pet in the middle of the day. Go for a walk early morning or late afternoon.
- Always have water with you when you and your pooch go for a walk.
- If your dog enjoys water let him swim or run through water sprinklers to cool down after exercise.
- Visit the parlor when your dog have a long coat during the summer months.
The following clinical signs will be shown by your pet and responding as quickly as possible may safe your pets life.
Clinical signs to look out for:
- Excessive panting
- Mental dullness
- Excessive drooling
- Reddened gums,
- Loss of consciousness
- Uncoordinated movement
What must I do when my poet has heat stroke?
The most important thing to do is to take your dog from the hot environment asap!!
When NOT to Attempt First Aid for Pets with Heat-stroke:
In the following conditions find your closest vet and take your pet there ASAP.
- You don’t have a thermometer handy or easily accessible
- You don’t have ready access to cool/tepid water
- Attempting first aid will only cause stress in your pet
- Your pet is vomiting, having diarrhea, or is noticeably bleeding or bruised
- Your pet is collapsed, unresponsive, or having seizures
What to remember when cooling your pet:
- Do not administer any medication to your dog.
- Do NOT pour water into the mouth of a collapsed or unconscious pet
- Do NOT force your pet to drink water.
- ONLY use tepid water when cooling down your pet. Using water that is too cold will cause additional problems.
- Do NOT cool your pet too fast.
- Do monitor rectal temperature every 2 minutes.
- Do stop cooling once rectal temperature reaches 39.4 C
- Regardless of response , any pet that suffered from heat stroke MUST be evaluated by a vet. Heat stroke is a serious and potentially fatal condition.
First aid for your pet with heat stroke:
- Move your pet to safe and cool area.
- Put a cool, wet towel or blanket underneath him.
- Let your dog drink as much cool water as he wants without forcing him to drink.
- Measure rectal temperature with a thermometer (preferably digital, rather than glass) and plenty of lube (you can also use water or saliva, if no lube is readily available).
- Apply or spray tepid/cool water onto the animal’s fur and skin. Then apply a fan/fanning to maximize heat loss.
- Wetting down the area around your pet can also help.
- Stop cooling once his temperature reaches 39.4°C.
- Call your veterinarian or the nearest emergency animal clinic and tell them you are on your way! They will tell you what to do next based on your dog’s symptoms and how far away you are from the clinic.
- Heatstroke is an emergency – always see a vet. Even if your pet looks like they may be recovering or you just suspect they might have heatstroke they should still always be checked by a vet.
Heat stroke is a reality in especially in the South African climate. As an owner it is our responsibility to be prepared and vigilant for the health of our furry friends.