Temperatures in New York City and around the country are hitting record degrees. This is prime heatstroke season for human and non-human animals. Air conditioning, low levels of exertion and water are necessary. Exercise extreme caution with older, younger or infirm dogs. Certain dog breeds are more stressed by heat due to their physiognomy or facial features. Dogs such as bull-dogs, boxers, pugs, etc. are brachycephalic (short-face or short head) breeds. This means their breathing passages are compacted resulting in some level of respiratory difficulty. These dogs tend to pant more even in mild temperatures.
You know that keeping your dog as cool as possible is a priority right now. (For more on preemption see www.examiner.com/x-4246-NY-Pets-Examiner~y2010m6d24-Hot-dog-notKeeping-your-dog-out-of-the-heat-this-summer ) Having said all that you should know what to look for and do if you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke. Time is critical in when responding. Mike Richards, DVM writing on vetinfo.com lists the following symptoms: “heavy panting, hyperventilation (deep breathing), increased salivation early then dry gums as the heat prostration progresses, weakness, confusion or inattention, vomiting and diarrhea and sometimes bleeding. As the condition progresses towards heat prostration or heat stroke there may be obvious paleness or graying to the gums.”
If you believe your dog is experiencing heatstroke act as quickly as possible. The dog should be cooled with cool or tepid water or placed in a cool bath. If access to a bath is not possible, wet the dog down using as much water as possible; a garden hose is ideal, you can also place water soaked towels and/or pour bottles of water, focusing on the armpit areas, the abdomen and the area next to the rear legs which are close to the body. Use a fan aimed at the dog to maximize the cooling process. Driving with the windows open and a wet dog will also help to cool the dog.
Do not use ice. Ice can lessen blood flow to the skin and cause blood vessels to narrow which can have severe consequences in an animal suffering heat stroke.
The dog should be taken for veterinary attention as quickly as possible. An article by veterinarians Flournoy, Macintire and Whol on Heatstroke in Dogs in Compendium notes that studies have been done which “showed a mortality rate of 49% for dogs that were not cooled by their owners versus 19% for those that were cooled before being transported to their veterinarian.”
Heatstroke is a dangerous disease which can be fatal. The proper steps in caring for a dog suffering from heatstroke can make all the difference.
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copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
"Exercise extreme caution with older, younger or infirm dogs. Certain dog breeds are more stressed by heat due to their physiognomy or facial features. Dogs such as bull-dogs, boxers, pugs, etc. are brachycephalic (short-face or short head) breeds. This means their breathing passages are compacted resulting in some level of respiratory difficulty. These dogs tend to pant more even in mild temperatures."
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copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
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