The panting could be heard from the back of the clinic. Before I even reached the front I knew what was going on. It was a hot, sweltering day in Oklahoma. You could feel the heat coming off the pavement nearly melting your skin. When it is this hot outside you know your animals have to be just as hot. Animals are just as susceptible to overheating and heat stroke as humans. This is a very serious situation and should be addressed immediately.
Miss Zoey was out taking a leisurely walk with her owner, like she does every day. Zoey was enjoying the time with her owner but was suddenly overcome by the heat and collapsed. She began panting heavily and could barely move. The owners brought her in right away. I immediately began to give Zoey a physical exam.
Zoey was panting heavily and she had a temperature that was 108.0 degrees. THIS IS HOT! A dog’s normal temperature should be between 99.5 and 103.5. Her gums and tongue were also turning blue. Unfortunately, Zoey was also overweight. We started to work on her right away. We moved her to the treatment area at our clinic and put her on oxygen to help with her breathing. The blue hue she was turning was a result of a lack of oxygen. After just a few minutes on oxygen, her pink color was returning. While she was on oxygen, I placed a catheter in the vein to give her fluids. Once fluids were being injected, I wrapped her paws in rubbing alcohol-soaked gauze. The alcohol is absorbed through the dog’s pads on their paws and helps to cool them down.
At this point it is really important to not bring their temperature down too fast. We slowly gave fluids, kept her on oxygen and continued to soak her pads. The owner’s decision and ability to bring her in immediately helped save her life. After about two hours, Zoey’s temperature was back to normal and she was breathing normally.
Whew. What a relief! We monitored her overnight and sent her home the next day.
Zoey, fortunately, made it through this terrible situation and is doing very well! Some animals are not this lucky.
Here are a few key points to help prevent your dog from getting overheated.
- Take walks early in the morning or later at night.
- Take water for you and your dog when you go for a walk/jog.
- If your dog stays outside, make sure they have access to fresh, clean water at all times.
- Kiddie pools are handy to have around. Keep in the shade and change out the water every few days.
- Overweight animals can have a difficult time catching their breath. Shorter walks can be easier for them during the summer months.
- If your dog gets overheated DO NOT put them in a cold bath. This can really hurt them.
- You CAN use rubbing alcohol on their paw pads to help cool them off.
- Make sure your dog has plenty of shade while outside in the yard.
- Do not leave your pets in a car. Even if the temperature outside is comfortable, the inside of a vehicle can get significantly hotter than the outside temperature.
- If anything seems abnormal or your pet seems to be in any sort of distress, you need to take them to a veterinarian immediately. The faster you get them help, the better their chances.
It is just too hot some days here in Oklahoma. Keep these key points in mind so you can keep your fur baby happy and healthy!
Big shout out to my staff at Cushing Veterinary Clinic for having the owner bring Zoey in right away and for assisting in her treatment and recovery! We all came together and worked as a team to get sweet Zoey feeling better.
Do you have a story similar to this one, or another cautionary tale? Please share below so we can help pet owners provide the best care for their animals.