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Heat Stroke in Pets - What to Do


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Heat stroke can occur when our pet's temperature reaches above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature the body's immune system begins to go haywire and their organs and blood begin to malfunction. Death can quickly occur without lowering their temperature and correcting any other problems that can arise. Typically animals with heat stroke stems from two common scenarios. One, the animals were left in the car, even with cracked windows. Secondly, animals that are kept outside without adequate shade or water. Both of these situations are very common and extremely bad for your pet's health.

Some other risk factors include brachycephalic breeds; these are dogs that have short noses such as bulldogs, pugs, and boston terriers. Dogs that are very young, under the age of six months and dogs that are seniors (over 7 years) are also much more likely to have this happen. Finally, dogs that are overweight or have a history of heart disease are also at high risk. Ensuring that these dogs have plenty of water to maintain proper pet health function is essential to their survival. If you find your animal in a hot environment and they are not acting normal they may have a heat stroke. Heat stroke victims typically are panting vigorously and are bright red in their mouths, ears, and around the eyes due to the very high blood pressure. They can have extreme weakness or be lying down and unable to stand up. Some dogs will have watery vomiting and diarrhea that may or may not have blood in it. As things begin to get worse you may notice small areas of bleeding under the skin in the mouth, ears and the whites of the eyes. Of course they will also feel warm to the touch. If your pet is exhibiting any of these signs quickly take them to your veterinarian.

Once presented to your veterinarian they may want to do a few simple tests to determine how far the problem has gone. Initially the temperature is determined and vets will try to place a catheter so they can flush cold fluids into the body. Your vet may also want to do some blood work to check for electrolyte imbalances and organ dysfunction. Probably one of the most important tests is to check blood-clotting times. Once the catheter is in place and going the vet will use colder fluids to help bring down the temperature of the pets; but another problem can arise, hypothermia. Without constant monitoring the temperature can lower to the low nineties. Once the blood work results are back the vet can then determine a treatment plan for your pet and offer suggestions on ways of better monitoring your pet's health in the heat. Regardless, any animal with a temperature above 105 we typically hospitalize because they need careful monitoring.

There are a few things we can do at home to prevent and help in the treatment of heat stroke. This one is easy; first keep your pet out of parked cars and uncovered pens in the direct sunlight. Next, keep lots of fresh water available. In case your animal feels warm to the touch you can also dip their feet in rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol really helps in bringing down the temperature. Quickly bring your pet into your local veterinary office and tell the front staff you have an emergency. With heat stroke, time really matters and the quicker the temperature is safely dropped the less harm that will be done.

Gary Pearson is an accomplished niche website developer and author.

To learn more about heat stroke in pets visit I Have Pet Health Questions for current articles and discussions.


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