LSU veterinarians report 2 cases of fatal heatstroke
BATON ROUGE - As summer sets in and temperatures soar to the triple digit mark, the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital reports they have already seen two cases of fatal heatstroke in pets this year.
According to the LSU veterinarians, they expect to see several animal heatstroke cases every summer, but recent heat advisories have meant it is more important than ever to remain vigilant to keep your four-legged friends safe during the hottest months of the calendar year.
The veterinarians point out that it is vital to pay close attention to pets due to the fact that they cannot communicate when they are overheating. Dogs don't sweat like people and regulate their body temperature by panting, which expels heat. If this heat isn't released fast enough, the pet's body temperature rises. A dog's normal body temperature rests between 101°F and 102°F, but a temperature increase of only three degrees to 105°F can cause the pet to have difficulty keeping with the body's demand for oxygen.
If a dog's temperature pushes up to 108°F, internal organs such as the brain can start to break down at a cellular level and can eventually result in death. The vets warn that puppies and kittens, along with older dogs and cats, are predisposed to being victims of heatstroke. Additionally, breeds like pugs and bulldogs that have short snouts or muzzles are at increased risk.
The LSU dog experts describe the early signs of heatstroke in pets as being characterized by rapid breathing, rapid heart rate and gums that have changed from their normal, healthy pink color to a bright red or even dull, grayish-pink. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be observed symptoms. The veterinarians say heatstroke is an absolute emergency, and pet owners should take immediate action to help the pet cool down.
If your dog begins to show the symptoms mentioned above, LSU veterinarians advise pet owners to immediately move the dog indoors or to a shaded area. Once there, soak the animal in cool water and contact your veterinarian as soon as you can. If heatstroke goes unchecked, the animals can collapse, have seizures, go into a coma, fall victim to clotting disorders and eventually die.
To prevent your pet from getting too hot, pet health experts point out that providing sufficient shelter from the sun for your animals is key. A low spot is best as hot air rises. Make sure dogs and cats have enough fresh water to drink if you're leaving them outside during the day. Most importantly, veterinarians point out that it is life-threatening to leave pets in hot cars, even when parked in the shade with the windows down.
A dog left in a hot parked car can die in just a few minutes so owners are advised to never allow this to happen. Finally, veterinarians say it isn't a good idea to jog or bike with your dog during the hottest hours of the day during the summer. Dogs have to work extra hard to maintain a safe body temperature when exposed to the sun during these hours, so it is better to plan walks and runs during the cooler morning and evening hours of the day.
Should your pet require emergency medical care during hours when your regular veterinarian isn't available, the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to treat emergency cases. For pets and small exotic animals, call (225) 578-9600 and for horses and farm animals, call (225) 578-9500. The hospital is located on Skip Bertman Drive with directions available by clicking here.