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What if my pet experiences a heat stroke?
A parked car can become an oven very quickly. The temperature in a car can go from 80 to 120 degrees in 20 minutes or less even if the windows are slightly cracked open. Your pet cannot pant fast enough to keep cool and will soon die of suffocation.
Heat stroke is all too common in this area. Dogs can't handle heat stress because they don't sweat. Large breed dogs and dogs with short noses are more susceptible to heat stress than others. Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting, extremely red tongue and gums, temperatures of 104-110 degrees, seizures, staggering, stupor, bloody diarrhea and /or vomiting, coma and death. Sometimes excessive drooling that suddenly stops is observed and owners unfortunately assume their dog is adapting to the heat. Instead, the dog is now dehydrated. Even mild dehydration during heat exhaustion can damage the kidneys, liver and heart.
Heat exhaustion is easy to prevent. Never leave your pet in an enclosure (cars, unventilated garages, etc.) for any length of time. If you leave your pet outside, you must provide a shaded area. Excessive exercise and extremely hot weather do not mix. Exercise only during morning or evening hours. Fresh drinking water must always, always, always be available.
If you suspect heat exhaustion, get your pet to your veterinarian immediately! If you try to cool your pet on the way to the hospital, use only cool water. Cold water can actually interfere with the cooling process. Offer ice cubes for your pet to lick on until you reach the hospital. The crisis is not over once your pet’s temperature is normal. Your pet's liver, kidneys, brain and other organs could have been damaged. Disseminated Intravascular coagulation - DIC- is a serious complication and is almost always fatal. A veterinary examination and blood tests are needed to evaluate your pet's condition.
Horses are susceptible to heat exhaustion as well. The best prevention is to know the preliminary signs of heat stroke-profuse sweating, rapid breathing and a rapid heart rate. Symptoms can escalate to extremely high respiratory and pulse rates; skin that is dry and hot and rectal temperatures above 105 degrees. Some horses are afflicted with anhydrosis - little or no ability to produce sweat. Anhydrotic horses are more prone to heat stress than others.
Heat stroke is life threatening! If you suspect heat exhaustion or heat stroke, call your veterinarian immediately.