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     Pet Heat Stroke   

Heat Stroke in Pets

By: Dr. Jan Becker

One of Springís and Summerís risks for pets is getting overheated in the environment. This most commonly occurs when a pet is left in a car even for a short period of time on what might seem like a mild day, yet the sun is shining on the car. It can also happen with an animal restricted to a sunny area of the yard or just one who is playing too hard and long on a hot, humid day.

There are certain breeds that are more prone to this such as ones with long hair or short noses. The hair holds in the heat and the main way to relieve being hot for dogs and cats is to breath fast-pant. Any older animal, really young puppy or kitten or any pet with medical issues is more at risk as well.

Pet Heat Stroke Symptoms

Signs of an animal getting too hot (heatstroke) are panting, drooling, weakness, bright red or severely pale gums, fast heart rate and of course, high body temperature. In serious cases, bleeding or vomiting and diarrhea with blood in it, seizures, coma and death can occur.

Pet Heat Stroke Treatment

Treatment is to get the pet immediately out of the sun or hot area and soak them in cold water. You can also put rubbing alcohol on paw pads, the arm pits and groin areas. Take the animal IMMEDIATELY to a veterinarian for treatment and keep the carís cold air (A/C or cool outside air) blowing on them as you travel. The veterinarian will assess them then for severity of damage. A body temperature of 109 degrees F is the critical point of possible serious internal organ damage.

Pretty much all body systems are affected if the internal temperature gets too high. The brain and nervous system, digestive system, immune system, kidneys, heart and blood vessels and even muscles can be affected. Lab tests should be done to ensure these systems are functioning properly after such an event.

If you have a pet who experiences heatstroke, he or she will need to be hospitalized and monitored to be sure the body and all systems fully recover. Moral of the story is donít risk this. Even a few minutes in a car with windows cracked and water in a bowl can lead to heatstroke. I once saw a long haired cat not survive being left in an open convertible in a cat carrier for about 30 minutes. Donít risk your loved ones. Better they be a little upset that you left them at home that day, than you have to leave them for days in a veterinary hospital (or worse).

If you need to tie your pet up outside, ensure there is a shaded area and you leave plenty of water for drinking.

Be safe in the heat and have great Springs and Summers.

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