Is Your Dog At Risk for Heat Stroke?
Have you ever heard the expression, “Hotter than the 4th of July”? Where does this expression come from and what does it mean? According to data from currentresults.com, July is the hottest month of the year for most large US cities. Many of us will find ourselves facing temperatures in the high 80s to high 90-degree range
Is Your Dog At Risk for Heat Stroke?
Have you ever heard the expression, “Hotter than the 4th of July”? Where does this expression come from and what does it mean? According to data from currentresults.com, July is the hottest month of the year for most large US cities. Many of us will find ourselves facing temperatures in the high 80s to high 90-degree range. If you live in popular desert communities, such as Phoenix and Las Vegas, you can expect the thermometer to rise well over 100 degrees. What does this mean for your dog? It means your dog could be at risk for a life threatening condition - heat stroke.
While any dog can suffer from heat exhaustion there are two types of conditions that can put some dogs at greater risk. Dogs who suffer from laryngeal paralysis and brachycephalic breeds are in the highest risk categories.
·Laryngeal paralysis occurs most often in older large breed dogs such as Labradors, Retrievers, The St. Bernard, and Siberian Huskies.
·Brachycephalic breeds are those we lovingly refer to as “flat faces”. We know them as French Bulls, Pugs, Boston Terriers, and Pekingese, just to name a few.
In this article we will focus on how Laryngeal paralysis can contribute to heat stroke. Next week we will consider brachycephalic concerns.
Laryngeal paralysis, simply put, is a narrowing of the airway. In a normal larynx the cartilage is open during breathing but closed while eating and drinking to avoid choking. Dr. Rebecca Hersh-Boyle, a Veterinarian at UC Davis, explains it this way: “The easiest way to think of the larynx is kind of like stage curtains. They open when air needs to get through”. But when paralysis occurs the muscles stop working because the nerves are no longer telling them to open and close. This makes it difficult for a dog to breathe and cool itself down. They begin to pant harder which only makes the situation worse as the tissues swell and in severe cases actually collapse in on themselves. When this condition is present your dog may literally be breathing through a straw. What does this have to do with heat stroke?
Dogs and cats sweat very little through their pores. It’s not an effective way of cooling down. It’s by panting that dogs circulate the necessary air through their bodies to cool down. Normal body temperature for a dog is between 99.5-102.5. However, if the air way is not open enough to allow air through, a life-threatening situation can occur. Body temperatures greater than 106 can cause permanent brain damage and temperatures greater than 109 can leave your pet with severe organ damage. Knowing the signs of a dog in distress can make the difference between a healthy outcome or something much less favorable.
Sedation is usually required for a complete diagnosis. But there are some “tail-tail” signs of the condition. Dogs with laryngeal paralysis have a “raspy” voice. You may notice their bark seems off. They may have increased breathing and panting, breathing that sounds like wheezing, foaming at the mouth and/or blue or pale gums. If any of these conditions are present or your dog has a temperature above 102.5, your dog may be in respiratory crisis and requires medical intervention. Cooling the body down is imperative to a healthy outcome. You can begin soaking your dog’s body with water or wet towels (do not completely cover with towels as this will impede air circulation) while directing a fan on him or her to start cooling the body down. If he or she doesn’t show improvement fairly quickly you will want to proceed to an emergency clinic where oxygen, including intubation if needed, and cold IV fluids can be administered. Fortunately most dogs respond favorably with medical intervention but as a last ditch effort some dogs require surgical treatments, though this is considered a high-risk surgery.
Prevention is the first line of defense in avoiding a heat stroke. Know if your dog is predisposed to heat stroke. Is he or she of the at-risk breed type? Don’t over exercise an at-risk pet and only walk when temperatures fall below a safe index. Keep the throat area unrestricted through use of a harness instead of a collar when leashing your pet and always keep plenty of cool water available. Manage your dog’s weight through a healthy low carb diet like BARF World®. Heat stroke is just one of the many dangerous conditions that can befall an obese dog.
Next week we’ll look closer at brachycephalic breeds and how summer temperatures could affect them. In the meantime if this year’s Independence Day really is “Hotter than the 4th of July”, remember another familiar phrase, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Raw Food Tip:
Autumn's relationship with BARF World began in late 2015. She has been a lover of all animals, great and small, her entire life. She credits her parents with allowing her to have many pets growing up including rats, birds, fish, cats and dogs. Her zoo is currently at full capacity with four dogs, (one of which has a pet cat named Leonard), husband! A passionate believer in the benefits of the BARF World diet, Autumn tries to talk to as many people as possible. A recent convert to Pescetarianism, Autumn enjoys trying new eateries and has traveled over 25 countries.
"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!