Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Contributed by a CP Media Volunteer

Be extremely careful about leaving pets in vehicles or tied out in the direct sunlight during warm, sunny days ... even a few minutes can be critical. And flea markets and other outdoor activities are often the worst place to bring a dog on a hot summer day. Factors that increase an animal's risk of developing heat stroke include:

· water deprivation
· enclosed space
· excessive humidity
· obesity
· exercise
· age
· cardiovascular disease
· lack of acclimatization

Short faced (brachycephalic) breeds such as Boxers, Pekingese, Pugs and dogs with heavy coats are at greater risk for heat stroke than some other breeds. Age, heart trouble, and physical condition such as being overweight all contribute to a lesser efficiency in dissipating heat buildup in the body. Any animal or human when faced with the ambient conditions of high temperature, high humidity and time to build up heat within the body faster than heat can be dissipated, can face the tragedy of being a victim of heat stroke. All it takes to avoid this serious problem it diligence and common sense.

Older pets have less resistance to stresses such as traveling, heat, noises, and unusual activities. Excitement or discomfort brings on panting and elevated metabolic rate which elevates the animal's temperature; and if the animal cannot remove that heat buildup within its body it may be just a matter of a few minutes before the dog or cat get into some serious medical difficulty.

If you return to your car or the area in which the animal was confined and find your pet seems to be highly agitated, wide-eyed and panting uncontrollably ... start for the nearest animal hospital right away with the air conditioning at full blast. Otherwise get the dog to a cool area and begin the treatment for heat stroke.

Emergency First Aid for Heat Stroke

1. Immediately move the dog indoors or to a cool area. If in an enclosed crate, remove the dog immediately.

2. Wet the dog down with cool water – do not use ice water as that will make internal cooling more difficult by constricting blood vessels.

3. Take the rectal temperature – if over 105 degrees F, transport immediately for veterinary care.Know where the nearest emergency clinic is located. Call en route to let them know you are coming.

4. Do not cover your dog during transport, even with a wet towel, as that can prevent heat from escaping.

5. Offer water to drink during transport, though not to a vomiting patient. Only offer small amounts of water.

6. Transport the dog in an air-conditioned car or lower the windows so circulating air can help with evaporative cooling.

7. If you are monitoring your dog’s rectal temperature during transport, stop cooling measures when it reaches 103 degrees F.

8. Even if your pet seems to respond to treatment, it is still best to have them evaluated by a veterinarian to check for internal problems. Complications from heat stroke can develop several hours later due to organ damage caused by high internal temperatures.

For more information on keeping your dog safe in the hot weather, please follow this link.

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