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Summer Dangers for Pets — Dog Heat Stroke Symptoms and Treatment

July 03, 2010 By: admin Category: All Sick Dog Blog Posts, Dog Dehydration, Dog First Aid and Veterinary Emergencies, Dog Heat Stroke (Hyperthermia), Dog Safety Tips, Dog Symptoms, First Aid for Heat Stroke in Dogs, General Dog Health, Home Remedies for Dog Heat Stroke, Pale Gums in a Dog, Summer and Hot Weather Safety Tips for Pets, Symptoms of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Learn About Dog Heat Stroke Symptoms and Emergency First Aid Treatment for Overheated Dogs. (Bill Davenport Photo)

Learn About Dog Heat Stroke Symptoms and Emergency First Aid Treatment for Overheated Dogs. (Bill Davenport Photo)

Every summer, thousands of dogs and cats are injured or killed due to heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia.

In the hot weather, a dog can develop heat stroke during a walk or jog, while sitting in a hot car, or even while sitting outside in the sun. Some dog breeds are more prone to heat stroke, including Brachycephalic dogs like the Pug, Pekingese and Bulldog. Double-coated dogs — like the Siberian Husky and Pomeranian — are also prone to overheating.

My latest article on Suite101, titled Dog Heat Stroke Symptoms, Treatment — Signs of an Overheated Pet, explains how to recognize a dog’s symptoms of heat stroke and how to administer first aid for a pet who is overheated. Dr. Michael Levine, DVM, shares information on a dog’s heat stroke symptoms, emergency treatment for overheated dogs and he discusses hot weather dangers and situations that lead to heat stroke.

Dog Heat Stroke Symptoms — Red or Pale Gums, Stumbling, Seizure and More

As many pet owners know, a dog’s normal temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hyperthermia or “heat stroke” occurs when the animal’s core body temperature rises due to overheating from exercise and/or exposure to hot weather. In dogs, heat stroke (mild to moderate) is diagnosed if the dog’s body temperature reaches 103.0 to 106.0 degrees. In severe heat stroke, dog body temperature will rise to 106.0 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

In a case of heat stroke, dogs may exhibit symptoms like:

  • Discolored dog gums (brick red gums in a dog with mild or moderate heat stroke; white pale gums in dogs with severe heat stroke)
  • Stumbling, collapse, weakness, a lack of coordination or refusal to walk
  • Tremors or seizure
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Inability to drink water due to heavy panting
  • Loss of consciousness or coma

Dog Heat Stroke Treatment and First Aid

Dogs require immediate first aid treatment if hyperthermia (the oppose of “hypothermia” ) is suspected. In this article, you’ll learn how to help a dog with heat stroke with home treatment measures like:

  • Moving the dog out of the sun and heat; ideally, the dog should be taken indoors to an air conditioned location
  • Slowly cooling the dog with water and fans
  • Monitoring the dog’s core temperature

You’ll also find out how to help a dog with heat stroke after cooling has started. You’ll also find out why it’s important to avoid heat stroke treatments like ice water, pools and other methods that rapidly cool a hot dog’s core temperature.

In addition to discussing how to help a dog with heat stroke, Dr. Levine explains how to know when it’s time to transport the dog to an emergency veterinary clinic. Remember, cooling an overheated dog is the first step; once the dog’s body temperature has been lowered out of the danger zone, the pet owner can transport the dog to the veterinary clinic for further treatment.

Hyperthermia After Care — Why it’s Vital to Take an Overheated Dog to the Veterinary Clinic

It’s important to note that once an overheated dog has been cooled, he’s not out of the woods. In dogs, heat stroke triggers a series of changes inside the body — think of it like a domino effect. This downward spiral or “domino effect” will continue, even once the dog’s body temperature has been lowered. In cases of severe heat stroke, dogs require emergency veterinary treatment if they are to survive; dogs who are not treated can and will die from hyperthermia complications.

Dr. Levine also explains many of the health complications associated with heat stroke in dogs, along with why you should always bring a dog to the veterinary clinic after a heat stroke.

Common complications from overheating in dogs include:

  • Dehydration
  • Shock (symptoms include low blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, pale gums)
  • Organ failure, including heart failure and kidney failure
  • Blood clotting problems and bleeding
  • Breathing problems (particularly in dogs with asthma)

Very young animals, sick pets, elderly dogs and dogs with a pre-existing medical condition will likely see additional complications from heat stroke.

To learn more about the symptoms and signs of heat stroke in dogs, along with Dr. Levine’s recommendations on how to treat heat stroke in dogs, read Dog Heat Stroke Symptoms, Treatment — Signs of an Overheated Pet.

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Is My Dog Dehydrated? – Simple Tests to Determine if a Dog is Dehydrated

March 18, 2010 By: admin Category: All Sick Dog Blog Posts, Capillary Refill Time in Dogs, Dog Dehydration, Dog Symptoms, How to Test a Dog for Dehydration, Pale Gums in a Dog

Use a liquid syringe, also called an oral medicine dispenser for pets, to give Pedialyte to a dehydrated dog. Click to Learn More or Purchase – Creative Pet Products Oral Medicine Dispenser for Pets, $5.99 at PetSmart

Wondering, “How can I tell if a dog is dehydrated?” There are a couple simple tests that can be used to determine if a dog is dehydrated. These methods to test for dehydration can also be used for a sick cat or in cases where a cat won’t drink or eat.

The Skin Pinch Test for Dehydration in Dogs

In a dehydrated dog, the skin will lose its elasticity. The more dehydrated the dog, the less elasticity will be present in the dog’s skin.

There is a simple test for dehydration that can be performed at home. This is called “the pinch test” or “the skin pinch test” for dehydration:

  • Locate an area of loose skin on the dog’s body. Usually, the scruff of the neck is the best place to perform this test.
  • Gently pinch a bit of skin and pull it away from the dog’s body, creating a “tent.”
  • Hold the skin for 2-3 seconds and then release your grasp.
  • Observe the skin as it flattens out.

In a healthy dog, the skin will return to its normal position instantly. In a moderately dehydrated dog, the skin will take 1 second or longer to flatten.

In cases of very severe dehydration, the dog’s skin will remain a bit “tented” for several seconds or until you rub the area. If the latter is observed, this should be regarded as a medical emergency and the pet will require immediate transport to a veterinary clinic for treatment.

Sometimes, it can help to perform this test when the pet is healthy, as this provides a point of reference for the future. If other healthy pets are present in the household,  you can perform this home test for dehydration on the healthy pet as a comparison.

Checking the Dog’s Gums for Symptoms of Dehydration

Another fairly easy test for dehydration involves checking the dog’s gums.

In a healthy dog, the gums will be slick and pink in color.

In a sick, dehydrated dog, the gums will feel sticky or dry when you run your finger across the surface.  The a sick dog’s gum color will be pale and he will exhibit slow capillary refill time.



Dog Dehydration and How to Treat a Dog for Dehydration

Dehydration can be a potentially deadly situation. A dog’s diarrhea and vomiting is one common cause of dehydration; fluid loss occurs over the span of a day or two. If a dog won’t eat and drink at all, dehydration can set in within a matter of hours and the situation can turn critical within 24 to 48 hours.

If left untreated, a dehydrated dog will suffer kidney damage and organ failure. In many cases, when a dog won’t drink or eat, the underlying disease, infection or other health problem that caused the dehydration in the first place will worsen very quickly.

Dog dehydration can be treated in a few ways, including:

  • IV Fluids for Serious Dehydration in a Pet – In serious cases of dehydration, a dog will have low blood pressure, kidney problems and other very serious symptoms. An IV will be inserted into a vein and the dog will receive fluids via his circulatory system.
  • Subcutaneous Injection of Fluids for Sick Dogs – The fluid (called Ringer’s Solution) is injected under the dog’s skin; the pet’s body absorbs the fluids, thereby treating dehydration.
  • Pedialyte for Dogs With Dehydration – To treat minor dehydration at home, mix 50% Pedialyte (unflavored) with 50% water. If the dog won’t drink voluntarily, the the dog can be given liquids by mouth using a fluid syringe. Feeding wet dog food can also be helpful. Pet owners can saturate dry dog food with hot water. Add enough water to cover the kibble and wait 15 minutes for the food to absorb the fluid. The kibble will swell as it becomes soft and mushy.

Readers may also want to read related articles, including information about how to check a dog’s capillary refill time, along with how to check a dog’s gums, along with photos of pale gums in a dog and photos of normal gums.

Pet owners can learn about these topics and more on The Sick Dog Blog. Visit The Sick Dog Blog’s Archives to read more!

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