2011-07-22 / Columnists

TheVeterinary Corner

Heat Stroke In Pets
Commentary By Jay Rogoff And Allen Simon, DMV

The summer is here and we all like to do outdoor activities with our dogs. We like to play ball, take long walks and jog with our furry friends.

Some summer days can be very hot. Any outdoor activity can pose a risk to your dog of developing heat stroke. Here are a few helpful facts that will aid you in avoiding this life threatening condition, and also guide you through first aid in case your animal is showing the signs of heat stroke.

The definition of heat stroke is an increased body temperature due to environmental factors. Other names include hyperthermia, and heat prostration.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition, which requires immediate treatment. The normal body temperature of a dog is 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit to 102.5. When the dog’s body temperature is higher than 105 degrees it is considered an emergency.

Possible causes of heat stroke are outdoor activity on a very hot and or humid day, leaving an animal in a vehicle without adequate ventilation, and leaving a dog outside on a hot day without enough water and shade. The breed and weight of the animal can be a contributory factor. Obese animals and brachycephalic breeds (Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, etc.) are much more sensitive to heat and can become overheated even at lower temperatures. It is important to be aware of breed specific problems.

The initial symptoms of heat stroke are excessive panting and restlessness. This will progress to excessive drooling and watery nasal discharge. Then the dog becomes unsteady, and can collapse.

If your pet is showing signs of heat stroke it is important to cool its body temperature to 103 degrees or below as quickly as possible. The use of ice cubes and ice cold water for cooling the body is not advised, since it will lead to the constriction of the blood vessels in the skin, which will delay the cooling of the internal organs. We advise that you wet your pet with tap water or a hose and put him or her near an air conditioner or fan. Offer water to your pet but do not force them to drink. As soon as you have done this we advise you transport him or her to the closest veterinary facility.

Avoidance is the best approach. Do not leave your pet unattended for long periods of time in the summer. Avoid outdoor activity on very hot days. It is better to walk your dog in the early morning and after the sun sets. Always make sure that your pet has enough water and shade. Do not leave your pet in a nonventilated vehicle or room, or without air conditioning.

Remember that the Animal Hospital of the Rockaways is open 7 days a week if you have a problem. We are a full service veterinary hospital and treat all emergencies on site.

If you have any questions please contact The Animal Hospital of the Rockaways at 718-474-0500.

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