PREVENTION is always better than a cure, with thousands of dogs suffering from heat stroke each year, owners need to be fully aware of the risks and do all they can to avoid it.
As most responsible dog owners in Spain are aware it´s important to never leave an animal alone in a car, never exercise them in the full heat of the day and always give them plenty of fresh cool water to drink. However sometimes even the most cared for Dog can fall victim to the heat. So what should you do if your dog becomes a victim of heat stroke?
There are many possible complications that can result from a dog becoming over heated and it is always best to get your beloved pet to a vet as soon as possible if they have suffered from heat stroke. Damage to internal organs caused by the excessive heat is not always obvious but can often be severe and fatal. While veterinary treatment is essential so is the initial first aid you can carry out yourself prior to this treatment.
A recent study showed that whilst many dogs affected by heat stroke do fortunately recover, 38% of those that received initial first aid from their owners to cool them down prior to seeking veterinary assistance died, compared to 61% that were taken direct to the vet without any owner intervention. Thus showing a rather startling discrepancy between those that are cooled down prior to seeking trained professional help and those that are not.
So what are the key points to remember if you are ever needed to help care for an overheated dog prior to them receiving veterinary assistance?
First ask someone to phone a vet and make an emergency appointment if possible whilst you deal with cooling the dog.
- Try to move the dog into a cooler environment away from the heat source.
- Never douse an overheated dog in cold water as this can have an adverse effect on their bodies ability to cool it´s self, instead use lukewarm water.
- Cover the animal in wet towels or clothes, again using lukewarm water not cold water.
- Use natural draughts or electric fans to help speed up the cooling process.
When the dog has cooled down significantly, transfer them to a car still in wet towels and proceed to the veterinary clinic with a window or two open to ensure the dog is still in a breeze and continues to cool.
The vet will continue the cooling process whilst ensuring the dog is not over cooled by monitoring their core temperature and possibly taking further measures such as administering intravenous fluids to maintain blood pressure, helping to cool internal tissue. This can significantly reduce the risk of dogs dying from internal damage days later after showing initial signs of recovery.
The high temperatures caused by heatstroke can affect a number of organs and systems within the body, known as ´global thermal injury´, this is the damage that needs to be treated and monitored by the vet. Whilst this damage can be serious of course following the simple steps above to help cool your dog as soon as possible, prior to taking them to the vet, can help reduce the severity of the damage caused by heatstroke and reduce further complication, increasing the overall survival rate massively.