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The Dog Nutrition Naturally Newsletter, Issue #7 - August 7, 2016 - heat stroke in dogs
August 08, 2016
| Greetings! Feeling...hot, hot, hot!
Heat Stroke in Dogs
The Summer of 2016
The summer of 2016 has been a scorcher here in Southern Ontario. Record high temperatures and minimal rainfall. Drought conditions, cranky dispositions and sleepless nights. Hard on everyone, including the dogs. I can't wait for the relief of cooler weather.
I'm writing because I want to tell you about something that happened a few days ago. A nasty experience for sure. One that I never want repeated...ever again!
This is Pager, our English Springer Spaniel. Pager has always been a bit of a sun worshiper, lying for hours on the deck in the full heat of day. I used to worry about him. I'd make him come into the cool house, thinking he'd get sunstroke if he spent too much time in the sun, but I'd no sooner bring him in than he'd want back out again. Lie down and bake some more.
But I got the scare of my life the other day. My partner Fergus took Teddy our Labradoodle, and Pager, out for a short walk about 6 PM that evening. Only about 15 minutes, just long enough for them to do some business, and that's it.
It had been an especially hot that day. Fergus said that all of a sudden, Pager started to pant heavily, and was having a hard time continuing to walk. They headed for home, and got here not a moment too soon. Pager collapsed in the front hall gasping for breath.
He could not get his breath. He was foaming and drooling from his mouth, his sides were heaving and he could not stand. The look of desperation in his eyes made me cry. Fergus was in tears too, thinking that it was his fault.
Canine Heat Stroke
Even though it was after hours, I called the vet! There must be a God, because our vet actually answered the phone. I explained what was happening and he said..."OMG! Not another one. It's heat stroke, for certain! "
He told me to put the dog in a kiddie pool or bathtub with luke warm to cool water...NOT COLD water, or put the hose on him. Since we don't have kids, we don't have a kiddie pool. Pager weighs about 65 lbs . He's pretty heavy and he was so distressed we couldn't lift him to take him upstairs to the bathtub, or outside to the hose, or even to the car to take him to the urgent care vet.
So we got wet towels and placed them over and under his body, over his head, around his paws, and put the fan on, right in front of him. Pager continued to gasp for breath. I got a people thermometer ( all I had ) and took his temperature in the ear. 106 degrees!!! I was horror stricken! We had to get his body temperature down or he could sustain serious organ damage, or even die!
Not one to keep over the counter drugs in the house, I sent Fergus to the store for some liquid Benedryl. I gave Pager a capful in a syringe, and after about a half hour, it did seem to open his air passageways a bit.
HyperthermiaHyperthermia is high body temperature. This is not to be confused with a fever. A fever is what the body does to fight off an infection, or as a response to inflammation. Hyperthermia is caused by something external ( outside ) the body which causes the temperature to rise.
Every summer we hear of dogs ( or children ) who have been left in the car, while the unthinking parent just ' runs into the store for a few minutes '. Believe me! A few minutes is all it takes in a hot car to raise body temperature to an extremely high level, risking organ failure or even death to the dog or child left behind.
So you will be able to appreciate my shock when I realized that it only took 15 minutes outside in extreme heat, to raise poor Pager's body temperature to an unacceptable level. Even though Pager is healthy and fit, he is not a young dog. He is probably about 14. His senior age was enough to make him more vulnerable to the extreme heat this summer.
By 11 PM, 5 hours later Pager's body temperature had come down to 103 degrees. Still too high, and he was still panting heavily and not able to rest at all. It was 2:30 AM before his body temperature had come down to a more normal level of 101. He finally put his head down on his paws and went to sleep. He was exhausted!
During the 8 hours between 6 PM and 2 AM Pager was not able to drink any water, so I had been giving him small amounts of water and minerals in a syringe every 15 minutes, to help keep him hydrated, and to keep his electrolytes stable. It worked! At 4:30 AM he woke me up ( I slept on the couch that night ) needing to go out to pee. I knew he'd be OK then.
Dog Heat Stroke SymptomsIn extreme heat conditions watch for these symptoms even if your dog is healthy. I don't want you to experience what we went through the other day. It was horrible.
If you notice any of these symptoms whether your dog is inside or outside, don't fool around. Call the vet. Better to be safe than sorry, as my grandmother used to say. Pager's unexpected experience with heat stroke scared the heck out of me!
Dogs at risk are senior dogs like Pager.
Here's What To Do
Get your dog to a cool spot in the shade, or on the floor in the house. Flooring is cooler than rugs. Call the vet and explain what's happened. Get your dog to the vet if possible. If not, put in him the bath with some lukewarm to cool water...NOT COLD water. Cold water constricts blood vessels.
Wet some towels and place under your dog's belly, front and back legs, over his back and head, and around his paws. The only way a dog can cool himself is by panting. Dogs only have sweat glands on their noses and the pads of their paws. Change the towels frequently making sure they are always cool.
Take your dog's temperature. If you only have a people thermometer, that's OK. Shake it down, and place inside the ear ( not too far ). Fold the ear flap over to hold in place for a few minutes. Your dog's temperature needs to come down to at least 103 before you can stop the cooling process.
If you have a portable fan, put it on low and let it blow directly on your
dog. Offer your dog some water, but if he can't drink, just try to wet his tongue. If you have a syringe, give him a few drops slowly.
Canine Heat Stroke is Something You Do Not Want to Experience!
I will be hyper vigilant from now on. I am always careful and observant with my dogs but this experience was really something! Even a ' know it all ' like me, can be surprised and shocked when something serious happens unexpectedly. Even when you think you've seen it all...you haven't!
Thankfully Pager seems OK now. Drinking water, peeing and pooping normally. He's not excited about food yet, so I'm having to coax him to eat. I think he's eating just because he knows I want him to. I'm not convinced he's 100% out of the woods yet. Maybe a trip to the vet for some bloodwork might be in order here.
I've had about enough of this long, hot summer of 2016. Please keep an extra eye on your dog this summer. If I'd been paying attention, I would have realized that Pager had been drinking more water than usual for several days before his episode. Since Pager is a raw fed dog, the clue was there. I just didn't see it. Raw fed dogs barely drink any water, since the food contains the water. I missed the clue.
I'm so sorry that you had to go through that Pager, so I could learn the lesson. Here he is in Kyle and Kathleen's truck. His favourite thing in the whole world. Trucks!
Next time I'll send a quick update on my sweet old dog Jack. Since writing about Jack last December 2015 when Jack turned 19, I have had so many lovely emails from my wonderful readers, asking after him. Jack is great! I'll tell you all about him next time.
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