Summertime Hazards- Heatstroke

posted: by: Alison Skala, DVM Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

             Summer is here- time for relaxing outside, picnics, swimming in the lake or pool and… visits to the veterinary emergency hospital?   There are many summertime activities that can become hazardous to your pet but there are precautions you can take to keep your pet safe (and avoid a visit to the emergency room!)


Heat Stroke

            Heat stroke is usually seen after excessive exposure to heat or high humidity, but some health conditions can make your pet more likely to have heat stroke in warm or humid weather.  Brachycephalic dogs (those dogs with “smushed” muzzles like bulldogs or pugs), obese dogs, dogs with cardiorespiratory disease (like laryngeal paralysis or congestive heart failure) and geriatric dogs can be predisposed to being more sensitive to heat and humidity.  Also, dogs that are very active on warm and humid days are at risk for heat stroke.  Symptoms of heat stroke include a high temperature (usually above 104, but anything about 102.5 is abnormal), excessive panting or difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, mild weakness or listlessness, muscle tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, collapse and seizures.  Severe cases can quickly lead to death.

            If you think your dog has heat stroke, get them to a cool place immediately (preferably with air conditioning), take a rectal temperature if possible, and spray your pet with cool (not ice cold) water.  Do not apply ice as that can increase complications in some cases.  Call your veterinarian or take your pet directly to the hospital (the emergency clinic if your regular veterinarian is not open or immediately available).

            Some things you can do to prevent heat stroke is to make sure your pet has a shady, cool area to sit when they are outside and plenty of cold water.  When it is very warm or humid, bring your pet indoors to an area with good ventilation or air conditioning.  If your pet has any predisposing factors (like a brachycephalic dog or respiratory problems), keep them cool and quiet, even when the temperature is not very high, since they are overly sensitive to warm weather.  Never leave your pet in the car unattended, even when the temperature doesn’t seem that high and even with the windows open, since a car can quickly become too warm for your pet.  And keep the phone numbers for Green Meadows Veterinary Hospital (614-846-9644) and your local emergency veterinary hospital (Medvet 614-846-5800 or OSU 614-292-3551) posted in your house for easy reference in case of an emergency.