Wednesday, July 29, 2009 1:22 PM

Heatstroke in Pets

What do you do if your pet exhibits the symptoms of heatstroke? Act fast, that's what. If your dog or cat is panting heavily, staggering around (assuming he can walk), drooling, looking very scared or just staring--plus has a fever of 106 degrees Farenheit or 41 degrees Celcius-the first thing you must do is lower that body temperature. The quickest way to accomplish this is with cold water. For severe cases, you may have to immerse the animal in a bath of icy water. Check the body temp with a rectal thermometer, and let that be your guide (don't have a pet thermometer? Go buy one today). Don't let the body temp fall below 103 degrees F or 39.5 degrees C., or you'll wind up with hypothermia! If you can't immerse the pet in a tub, use the garden hose to soak him down. Massage the extremities in particular to keep the circulation going and avoid shock. Do all this before you call the veterinarian--seconds count! A fever above the danger zone can cause permanent damage and even death. Put the animal in front of a fan while you call your vet.

Mild cases may only require the movement of the animal to a cooler spot, like the basement. Again, check the body temp with a thermometer, don't try to diagnose the symptoms. Sponge the cat or dog with a sponge dipped in cold water, just in case. Give lots of cold water to drink. In more severe cases, the animal may be vomiting, so this may not be possible; dehydration is a real threat here, so you'll definitely need to see the vet. He or she will be able to give subcutaneous fluids to rehydrate your pet.

Even after he seems out of danger, you'll need to monitor the animal for a couple of days to be sure all is well. Convulsions and death can occur even after it seems the worst has passed. If your pet was seriously affected by hyperthermia, it may be best to leave him at the vet's for observation.

Older pets and those that are overweight are at increased risk for heatstroke. If you needed another reason to put Fluffy or Rex on a diet--here it is!

As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Keep a watchful eye on your beloved pets during the hot summer months and you'll never have to contend with this dangerous and often fatal condition.

Today's photo shows the scene outside our front windows late last February. There's nothing like a nice wintry scene to cool you off during a heat wave. Aren't you feeling refreshed already?
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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