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The Dangers of Heatstroke for Pets

As we head into summer here in the Nashville area, the heat and humidity can be unbearable at times for pets and people. Although you are ready to include your dog in your plans to have some fun in the sun, you need to be aware of the dangers of heatstroke for your pets.

To make sure your dog stays cool and comfortable this summer, 5 Points Animal Hospital would like to share some tips from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) for preventing, detecting, and treating heatstroke. Knowing what to look for and how to react could mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged friends this summer.

PREVENTION

man hiking with dog on his backIf you think heatstroke is only possible from the heat and humidity outdoors, you should think again. Hot, humid, and unventilated areas inside can also be very dangerous for pets. You should never, ever leave your pet alone in a parked car, even with cracked windows. Before you leave for work each day, you should always make sure your dog has access to fresh water and air conditioning in your home. 5 Points Animal Hospital recommends going for your daily walk with your pet in the early morning or late evening to avoid the extreme heat during the middle of the day.

DETECTION

Knowing the signs of overheating is crucial to keep your pets safe from the risks of heatstroke. Be on the alert to excessive panting and drooling, slight weakness, increased heart rate, stupor, and difficulties with breathing with your pet. Severe heatstroke symptoms include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and seizures. You should also be aware that pets with shorter noses such as bulldogs, boxers, pugs, and Persian cats, are at a higher risk for heatstroke.

TREATMENT

You should begin a cooling method as soon as you notice any of the signs of heatstroke in your pet. Suitable cooling methods include placing a fan in front of your pet, rubbing his paws and abdomen with cotton balls that have been saturated with rubbing alcohol and wrapping your pet in towels that are soaked in lukewarm water. You may think that cold water is a better choice, but you should not cool your pet too rapidly as this is harmful. Once you have started to cool your pet down, you should seek medical attention for them immediately.

Heatstroke is a serious health condition for pets and could even be fatal. For more information about keeping your dogs and cats safe during the hottest days of summer, contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital. We are here for all of your comprehensive veterinary health needs.

Be Alert to Signs of a Heat Stroke!

Be Alert to Signs of a Heat Stroke Image - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal HospitalThe strong heat and humidity we get here in Nashville in the summer can be dangerous for pets as well as humans. Dogs, in particular, are at an increased risk for heat stroke, which can be deadly. Since dogs do not sweat through their skin, they can only release heat through the foot pads and nose as well as by panting. If it is too hot for a dog to effectively release heat quickly, his internal body temperature rises. If his temperature gets as high as 106 degrees, he could have irreversible damage to his organs and cellular system. Most cases of heat stroke in dogs can be prevented, which is why it is important to know the signs of this elevation in body temperature. 5 Points Animal Hospital would like to share these signs and tell you more about helping your dog avoid heat stroke.

What are the signs of a heat stroke?

On extremely hot days when you are outside with your dog and your dog begins to vigorously pant, you may want to look at his mouth. According to About Dogs, dark red gums that are tacky and dry is a warning sign of heat stroke. Other signs to watch out for include dizziness, disorientation, lying down and unable to get back up, collapse, and loss of consciousness.

What do I do if I think my dog is having a heat stroke?

If you notice any of the above signs, it is important to take immediate action by moving your dog out of the heat and sun. Place cool wet rags on your dog’s foot pads and head, and change these rags frequently as they warm up. Do not cover your dog’s entire body with wet rags as this can trap in heat. Make sure the rags are cool and not icy cold. Using ice and ice water can cause more problems by constricting blood vessels, which prevents the body from cooling down. Offer your dog cool drinking water, but do not force him to drink. Do not let him drink excessively either. Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital even if your dog seems to be fine after cooling down. There could be internal damage, so we can check your dog out and perform tests, if needed, in our office.

How can I prevent heat stroke in my dog?

Many cases of heat stroke are caused by leaving a dog alone in a car on a warm day, even with the windows down. Temperatures in the inside of your car can rise to dangerous levels within minutes, so never leave your dog alone in your car. Other ways of avoiding heat stroke include refraining from vigorous exercise on very hot days and always keeping fresh and cool water available for your dog. You should also know that certain dogs have a bigger sensitivity to heat. If you have an obese dog or a short-nosed breed like a pug or a bulldog, you should be very cautious when your dog is exposed to heat.

Taking quick action can help your dog make a full recovery from heat stroke, which is why it is so important to know the signs. If you ever notice signs of heat stroke in your dog, contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital as soon as possible.

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