Use Common Sense as Temperatures Rise

I recently realized that I must’ve fallen from Dolittler’s subscription list during a recent upgrade and wasn’t getting Dr. Patty’s daily post by e-mail anymore.  I clicked over to do some catching up and started following some links on her blogroll, and—as often happens on the internet—ended up in places I’d never intended reading things I wasn’t even looking for.   Happily, I found something I should share with you:

The Daily Woof: Keeping your Canine cool part I

The Daily Woof is a well-maintained and active blog, and this recent post really hit home as a timely piece for our clients and patients.  I’m sure my colleagues at the Emergency Animal Clinic are feeling it:  as parvo season ends and the steady flow of incompletely- or inappropriately-vaccinated puppies begins to slow, heat stroke season is just warming up (pun intended, of course) here in the Valley.  I dreaded heat stroke during my five years as an emergency veterinarian.  Not because the cases we saw were absolutely devastating and frequently fatal to our patients, but because every case was preventable.

From the Saint Bernard found dead near his dry water bowl one July by Mesa PD’s animal control officers (and presented for examination as part of a cruelty investigation), to two dogs tragically and accidentally trapped in an aluminum shed during the summer’s heat, to countless jogging partners who literally ran themselves to death to please their humans, each and every case of heat stroke I have treated was due in part to the actions and ignorance of their people—people who unquestionably loved their dogs and made terrible mistakes.

Fortunately, ignorance is cureable; all it takes is a little bit of knowledge.  Follow the links above.  Familiarize yourself with the signs of heat stroke and first aid measures that can be taken on the way to the veterinarian.  Keep in mind that even the most well-conditioned and athletic dogs can succumb to this deadly disease as the seasons change.  Don’t forget that short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds like boxers, pugs, and bulldogs are really sensitive to overheating, even during seemingly mild temperatures.  Use particular caution during the next few weeks as we go from blissfully cool spring days to dangerous 3-digit temperatures (and sometimes back) overnight, and again as the humidity rises during the monsoon, but keep your guard up and use your new-found knowledge about heat stroke until fall temperatures arrive.

Your dog will thank you.  And one less case of heat stroke to treat this year will make some veterinarian’s day, too.