Pets in Springfield are still at risk for heat stroke. Learn how to treat and prevent it.
Now-a-days there is enough media warning against Heat Stroke and leaving pets and children in a hot car that most people know by now not to do it. The following chart exemplifies the temperatures of a parked car that is turned off with all the windows up.
Cited from Jan Null, CCM; Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University
Even a person who is “just going to grab one thing real quick” can see that after only 10mins the temperature differential is 19F! Please don’t leave pets or children in cars.
But there are other ways our pets are at risk for heat stroke: leaving them outside to go potty unattended on a hot day, forgetting to fill up their water bucket, lack of shade, going on a long walk in the peak of the day. Activities that all seem harmless and part of our daily routine can quickly turn into a life-threatening problem if we are not mindful.
Particular animals in Springfield who are most at risk for heat stroke include long haired animals, the very young or elderly pets, dogs who have smooshed faces (pugs, bostons, English bulldogs, etc), animals who are accustomed to AC, patients with underlying heart disease or other major organ disease, obesity and previous heat stroke history.
Normal body temperature for a happy healthy dog or cat is 101F – 102.5F taken rectally. At Deerfield Veterinary Hospital, Heat stress is considered when the body temperature is >103F. Other causes could include an infection, recent seizure, toxicities, or cancer so it is important to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian if you suspect your pet’s temperature is abnormal. At this point, the animal can be easily brought back to normothermic temperatures with minimal intervention and no long term effects on the pet.
A diagnosis of heat stroke is made once the body temperature reaches 106F. Symptoms include panting, hypersalivation, bright red mucous membranes, turning blue, increased heart rate, shock, respiratory distress, changes in mentation and behavior, confusion, difficulty walking or unable to ambulate at all, and seizures.
Once a critical temperature of 109F is reached then coma, cardiac/respiratory arrest and death may occur.
As the body gets hotter the organs will become damaged and start to malfunction. If the heat stress continues permanent organ failure can ensue.
Immediate immersion in water and providing convection cooling with fans is the mainstay of treatment for heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. If water immersion is not possible then apply alcohol on the foot pads, axilla and groin. Stop the cooling procedure when the body temperature reaches 103F. Avoid ice as this vasoconstricts the peripheral blood vessels and can delay cooling. It can also create shivering which generates more heat.
Bloodwork may be warranted to determine the extent of organ damage and guide any supportive care measures that might be needed for the pet. Supportive care may include oxygen, IV fluids, anti-seizure meds, anti-nausea meds, antibiotics, etc. Antibiotics are needed to prevent bacterial translocation from the damaged intestines into the bloodstream. This could cause sepsis leading to life-threatening bacteremia and coagulation disorders such as DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation).
It is recommended that a pet needs a minimum of 24 hours hospitalization to monitor for any complications during the cooling down phase and recovery but depending on the severity of the case they may stay longer.
Prognosis is based on how hot the core body temperature became before the intervention was started, how quickly the animal was brought back to normothermic temperatures and if there is any permanent organ damage that remains. Possible outcomes: kidney failure, liver failure, heart failure, and neurological defects.
As any good vet or doctor will tell you…The best treatment for heat stroke is prevention.
Deerfield Tips and Tricks to keep our furry loved ones cool during the heat:
- Provide adequate outdoor time during the early morning hours or evening hours and avoid the peak hot times of the mid-day.
- Avoid hot pavement/asphalt as this can burn their paws.
- Pets who are accustomed to indoor AC AND those specific breeds and categories mentioned above need to be monitored very carefully while outdoors on a hot day, even if they are only out for 5 minutes, do not leave them unattended because it does not take long to get heat stress and exhaustion.
- Keep water with you just in case your pet gets thirsty or starts showing signs of heat exhaustion.
- Carry an umbrella with you on a walk to provide adequate shade.
Deerfield Tips and Tricks for our outdoor family members:
- Provide access to shade and fresh water to drink.
- Kiddie pool with fresh water. Dogs who do not like the water can be enticed to get in by placing some of their favorite toys or treats in the middle of the pool.
- Shave down heavy coated dogs. Leave an inch or two to protect their skin from the sun and a small hair coat can help keep them cool as well.
- Freeze 2L bottles of water and put them on their dog bed outside or in the pool to keep the pool water cooler longer.
- Fans (securely placed out of the reach of the pet) for air circulation on stagnant days.
- On extremely hot days consider allowing the pet to have access to AC such as a laundry room, bathroom or day boarding them at a facility that offers doggy daycare.
If you have any questions regarding Heat Stroke in your pet, please contact us at 417-889-2727. Deerfield Veterinary Hospital is a full-service pet hospital. We provide medical and surgical care as well as boarding and bathing services for your cat and dog. We have on-site lab diagnostics and blood testing, allowing presurgical and senior screenings in our pet hospital. We have both X-ray and ultrasound and the latest and safest anesthetics available for your pet during surgery.