Dangers of heat stroke

Summer is a fun time for all, but the heat can be lethal to our pets:

  • Pets cannot sweat like we do.  They release heat through their tongues, foot pads and nose which is much less effective than sweating
  • Heat stroke can be life-threatening - and it occurs quickly
  • Big dogs, dogs with flat faces, overweight, older, dehydrated or anxious pets are more at risk
  • Even relatively cool areas can be dangerous if the animal is unable to access cold water. 

Signs of heat stroke can include:

  • Excessive and prolonged panting
  • Bright red or blue-purple gums
  • Thick, ropey saliva
  • Lethargy, weakness, seizures, collapse
  • Excessive drooling

What heat stroke can cause:

  • Organ failure
  • Muscle damage
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Brain damage
  • Airway swelling

Heat stroke is one of few true emergencies and is usually avoidable: 

  • Don't leave your pet in an enclosed space for any length of time - especially the car
  • Don't exercise your pet during the hottest part of the day
  • Ensure there is access to shade and lots of fresh water, both before and after activity

To help, you can hose down your dog with cool water (not cold).  Let the water run continuously in the groin area as there are large numbers of blood vessels there which will allow for more rapid cooling of the blood. Do not cover your pet with a wet towel as this will limit the evaporation. 

Every year, a number of Totally Vets' clients lose their dogs to heat stroke.  We really hope that knowing how to avoid heatstroke and being more aware of the risk factors and warning signs will help prevent unnecessary deaths.

If you suspect heat stroke in your pet please ring to let us know if you are coming to the clinic, so that treatment can be started more quickly, which will give a better chance of a successful outcome.

Click on this link for an incredible video that shows just how quickly your dog can be affected by heat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbOcCQ-y3OY&fbclid=IwAR3DlNcVMSOhmC5m0lT4IeDFSi4kDccWVsDo2okQ4QoAO3x8S_rkLQvbZk4 

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