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Detecting Heatstroke in Your Pet

by recycler on September 9, 2011

Know the signs of potential heatstroke.

Yesterday, we discussed about why it was so important to protect your pets from the heat during the summer, particularly when there is a heat wave.

It has been as hot as 107 this week in Los Angeles where the main recycler.com office is located. That means many animals, particularly dogs, are susceptible to heat-related ailments.

Among those, heatstroke is the most serious since it leads to the deaths of a number of animals every year.

As we said yesterday, cats and dogs typically have body temperatures 100.5 to 102.5 degrees. Generally, it is abnormal for  a pet’s body temperature to get above 103 degrees. If it gets up to 106 degrees, it is usually hyperthermia, otherwise known as heatstroke.

For most pets, the critical temperature is between 107 and 109 degrees. That’s when multiple organ failure and impending death occurs. So how can you tell if your pet is approaching potentially dangerous temperatures?

The simplest way to tell is by taking your pet’s temperature and knowing what its normal temperature range is for the type of animal and what type of breed it is. However, not many pet owners have pet thermometers and administering a rectal thermometer just doesn’t hold the greatest appeal.

If you are without a thermometer, here are some tell-tale signs that an animal, particularly a dog, is over-heated and possibly suffering from heatstroke:

  • Excessive panting - Panting allows animals to expel heated liquids from the respiratory tract while allowing cooler air to replace it. The majority of animals that don’t sweat, release hear primarily through panting. Even cats, normally calm and docile at all times, will pant when overheated or overexerted. You know your pet, so you should be able to tell when it is panting excessively compared to normal. (Muzzled animals are at greater risk because their ability to pant is restricted.)
  • Discolored tongue and gums - This is something you should have asked a vet at an earlier time. Some dogs tongue and gums will turn a dark red, some will turn bright red and others will turn purple when they are overheated. Their body concentrates on cooling the inner organs and there is less circulation sent to the mouth.
  • Staggering or Stupor- When overheated, blood circulation slows down. Decreased blood flow can lead to animals being unresponsive and unable to perform normal tasks, including standing or walking.
  • Shock – As the body temperature escalates, a pet will often go into shock. This is often followed by…
  • Seizures – When body systems shut down, the brain often has an overload of neurological activity, which can result in seizures.
  • Bloody diarrhea or Vomiting – When the body overheats, the brain may also lose control of bodily functions.
  • Coma – Ultimately, in a final attempt to control the body, the brain shuts down all systems and only pushes a minimal amount of blood to the vital organs.




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