Friday, April 20, 2012

Hot Weather Alert & Heat Stroke Prevention Tips by Erin Selby

A heat wave has arrived in the Bay Area on the heels of all that stormy weather. Starting today, you can expect the weather to be HOT HOT HOT and getting even hotter for at least the next week. This may be a cause for celebration for many but it is also a time to exercise caution and awareness as a pet owner. Every year, we treat several animals for heat stroke. It is extremely dangerous and can be fatal. The best way to guard against the dangers of heat stroke is prevention. Read the following guidelines and list of symptoms so that you and your pet are prepared - this information can help save your pet's life.

General Guidelines 
  • If possible, keep your pets indoors with the shades drawn and the air conditioning or an oscillating fan on.
  • If your pet has to stay outside make sure they have access to cool and shaded areas.
  • Whether they are indoors or outside, make sure your pet has access to plenty of cool, fresh water. You can even try putting ice cubes in their bowls to keep the water extra cool.
  • Do not leave pets unsupervised around pools. Not all pets are water savvy and even experienced swimmers can get tired and have trouble getting out of a pool.
  • Keep long, thick fur trimmed in a lightweight summer cut.
  • Only take your dog on a walk early in the morning or late in the evening when the temperature is cooler. Not only can exercise in extreme heat cause heat stoke but the hot asphalt can burn sensitive paw pads. 
  • Avoid strenuous exercise or play in general in the hot weather; don't go on long hikes or lengthy walks.
  • NEVER leave your pet in the car! Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke  
  • Excessive panting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart and respiratory rate
  • Drooling
  • Weakness, stupor, and possible collapse
  • Seizures
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Flat nosed breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Persians are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. Other pets at high risk include the elderly, overweight pets, and pets with heart or lung disease.
If you think your pet may be suffering from heat stroke, get them to a vet immediately. In the interim you can try to cool them off by dousing them with cool (but not COLD water) especially on the groin, arm pits, and paws. You do not want to soak them completely with cold water. This can cause shock and can also cause the blood vessels to constrict, thereby trapping heat inside the body. 

You can read more information about heat stroke here, from our Pet Health Library. You can also read about Tucker Klopp on our Lives Saved page; a Newfoundland who was hospitalized after collapsing on a hot day.

By taking the proper precautions and following a few simple guidelines we can enjoy all the fun the season brings and keep our pets healthy and safe. It doesn't take much to make sure our furry friends are comfortable and cool in the heat. If you have any questions or concerns, we are here when you need us! Stop on by or give us a call at 925.866.8387.

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