This time of year brings the delights of snow cones and splashing at the beach. But it also brings the very real risk of heatstroke for two and four leggers alike. Pet Safety Expert Denise Fleck offers valuable information and tips on what to do in the case of a companion animal heatstroke emergency.
While human animals are typically able to get water and retreat to a cooler locale- our companion animals are truly at our mercy when the heat sets in. One of the scariest things about heatstroke is that it can occur quickly and it's damaging effects can be progressive, lifelong and fatal.
It is best not to take any chances when it comes to heat and animals- leaving your pooch in a car while you make a quick run into the store is a BAD idea. According to Denise, "Even with windows open, a parked car can quickly reach more than 150 degrees resulting in heat stroke which can cause permanent brain damage, kidney failure, cardiac arrest and death. Never leave an animal unattended in the car for even a few minutes." And keep in mind that you may be away longer than planned due to any number of unexpected possibilities!
Other summer precautions include assuring that, if your companion animal is outside, there is a large supply of fresh water, shade and the ability to relocate to cooler areas as the sun's position changes. Many states now have anti-tethering protection laws that prohibit 'owners' from leaving a dog outside on a chain.
Also remember that any wildlife or feral cats that you feed also need plenty of water- preferably fresh water. Be sure if you are providing food or water to area animals, that you set it up in way that minimizes it's exposure to heat and insects. Containers placed in the shade under a dripping hose or where they can catch rainwater can be a useful way to provide ongoing water.
WHAT TO DO IN THE CASE OF HEATSTROKE
by Denise Fleck
• Move your pet to a cooler environment. Indoors is best but even a shady sidewalk or grassy area can help.
• Place pet in a tub or wading pool (But not in ice water). Think “from the paws up,” if using a hose to wet his skin, belly, arm pits, groin and paws first. Water sprayed on the back may just skim off the fur and not cool the skin.
• Also keep in mind that on hot days water coming out of a hose can initially be very hot. Take care to let water run till cool before spraying on your precious pet.
• You can also cover animal with wet towels and use a cold pack around neck (30 seconds on one side and then 30 seconds on the other). Never use ice water!
• Offer small amounts of water or an electrolyte replenisher like Pedialyte or K9 Quencher, but don’t force your pet to drink and do not let him “tank up” when he is over heated. You risk the possibility of him vomiting the water and aspirating into his lungs. Fluids may need to be given intravenously at the Vet.
• Check temperature under the tail every 5 minutes and stop cooling process at 103° F.
• Get to Vet or Emergency Center ASAP if temperature is above 103̊F. Be prepared to treat for Shock and administer Rescue Breathing & CPR.
As always, a big thanks to Denise for her guidance. Enjoy the pleasures of summer and be sure to keep your furry little loved ones cool, comfortable and safe as the mercury rises!
Dr. Pia Salk