Animal Heat Stroke

Avoid heat stoke in your pets

When the editor of the North Coast News asked Dr Steele, my “mom”, if she would be interested in writing a regular pet care/veterinary column for the people of Ocean Shores, she was interested. But she wondered where she would find the time to write. So I stepped in! I am Karoo, her 2 year old, red Border Collie. While she is busy helping care for pets in our fine city, I will get on her laptop and put together fun and informative information for you and your pets! I will start with some specific topics, then maybe switch to questions from you folks and your “furry kids“.

Here is Ocean Shores we are blessed with cool temperatures and wonderful ocean breezes. Many of us pups have the privilege of being with our human “parents” 24/7. That includes going for car rides, certainly one of MY favorite pastimes! But summer heat and closed cars can be very dangerous, or even deadly, for dogs and cats.

It is easy to think that in our cooler weather, “it can’t happen here“, but it can! With the outside temperature as low as 73 degrees F, the temperature in a car (with the windows cracked open) can reach 120 degrees in as little as 30 minutes! And don’t forget: it may be cool and breezy here in OS, but just leave the peninsula and head east, and it can be very hot!

Us dogs are much more susceptible to heat stroke than our human pack members. We can not roll down the windows (difficult to do without opposable thumbs!), turn on the air conditioner, open that bottle of water or even get out of the car if we get hot! We are also much less efficient at cooling our bodies. Our sweat glands are in our nose and the pads of our feet. We cool ourselves by panting, but if we are breathing heated air, our body temperature will continue to rise. When our body temperature rises over 107 degrees, we can suffer brain and organ damage in as little as 15 minutes! Short nosed dogs (such as pugs and bulldogs), young, old, overweight dogs or those with health problems are at even greater risk.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid heart beat, fever, vomiting, lack of coordination, collapse and death.

If your human sees an animal with any of these signs they need to TAKE ACTION! Please move the animal to shade or an air conditioned area; apply cool towels to head, neck, tummy and paws or spray with cool (not cold), water; allow to drink small amount or water or lick ice cubes; and take to a veterinarian. Even with emergency care, heat stroke can be fatal!

The best cure of heat stroke is PREVENTION! So please, when it is warm outside, keep us safe, and leave us home to guard the couch!

Here’s to the “dog days of summer”.

Waggingly yours, Karoo.

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