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Your CKVC Newsletter August 2010

Heatstroke or Hyperthermia in Pets

Willeford_Window_Watchers.JPGHeatstroke can be a life-threatening condition, and requires immediate treatment.  A dog's normal body temperature is 100.5 - 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and  cat's normal body temperature is 101.0 - 103.0 and if the body temperature is higher than 105°F, a true emergency exists.  Heatstroke generally occurs in hot summer weather when pets are left with inadequate ventilation in vehicles. 

(It looks wayyyyyy too hot out there....glad Mom didn't want to go for a jog!)

However, heatstroke may also occur in other conditions, including:
1. When an animal is left outdoors in hot/humid conditions without adequate shade.
2. When an animal is exercised in hot/humid weather.  
3. When left in a car on a relatively cool (70°F) day; a recent study from Stanford University Medical Center found the temperature within a vehicle may increase by an average of 40 degrees Fahrenheit within one (1) hour (even on cooler days).  On warmer days the temperature inside a vehicle can rise rapidly.

Other predisposing factors may be obesity or diseases affecting a pet's airway.  Prolonged seizures, eclampsia (milk fever), poisonings, and many other conditions may also cause hyperthermia.  Brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds (Pekingese, Pug, Lhasa apso, Boston terrier, French Bulldog, etc.) may suffer from ineffective panting body temperature regulation that can result in an increased body temperature that may be fatal.

Initially the pet appears distressed, and will pant excessively and become restless.  As heatstroke progresses, the pet may drool large amounts of saliva from the nose and/or mouth.  The pet may become unsteady on his feet or seem uncoordinated.  The pet's gums may turn blue/purple or bright red in color due to inadequate oxygen.


What to Do
• Remove your pet from the environment where the hyperthermia occurred, to a shaded and cool environment, and direct a fan on him/her. 
• If possible, determine rectal temperature and record it.
• Begin to cool the body by placing cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits, and in the groin region.  You may also wet the ear flaps and paws with cool water.  Directing a fan on these wetted areas will help to speed evaporative cooling.  Transport to the closest veterinary facility immediately.

What NOT to Do
• Do not use cold water or ice for cooling.  Do not overcool the pet.
• Most pets with hyperthermia have body temperatures greater than 105°F, and a reasonable goal of cooling is to reduce your pet's body temperature to 102.5-103°F while transporting him/her to the closest veterinary facility. 
• Do not attempt to force water into your pet's mouth, but you may have fresh cool water (not ice water) ready to offer should your pet be alert and show an interest in drinking.

Rapidly cooling the pet is extremely important. While ice or cold water may seem logical, its use is not advised. Cooling of the innermost structures of the body will actually be delayed, as ice or cold water will cause superficial blood vessels to shrink, effectively forming an insulating layer of tissue to hold the heat inside. Tap water is more suitable for effective cooling.

Severe hyperthermia can affect nearly every system in the body. Simply lowering the body temperature does not address the potentially catastrophic events that can accompany this disorder. A pet suffering from hyperthermia should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.  Your veterinarian will continue measures to lower the pet's body temperature to a safe level and monitor the pet for any signs of complications that can be associated with heatstroke.

Special thanks to the clients willing to share their cute pet photos!

Cutest Pet Contest

During the month of May we held a Cutest Pet Contest to support our stray programs. The votes are in and the winners are:

     First Place - Patches        Second Place - Penny       Third Place - Maggie


Congratulations to all the winners!