Pet owners beware of heatstroke!
Okinawa is a place where the summer season takes up majority of the year unlike mainland Japan where four seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) are equally present. What pet owners need to be careful of in this perpetual summer season, is heatstroke. This is the time of the year when vet clinics like us would see emergency patients who are carried in with heatstroke virtually every day. And in many cases heatstroke may be fatal, and therefore pet owners must gain knowledge on heat stroke before it’s too late.
What is heatstroke anyway?
Average body temperature of small dogs range from 38.6°C (101.5°F) to 39.2°C (102.5°F), and large dogs range from 37.5°C (99.5°F) to 38.6°C (101.5°F). Heat-struck dogs’ temperature rises and continues to stay at more than 40°C (104°F). Summertime in Japan is hard even for humans. It’s even harder for dogs with the coat they are wearing.
Humans are able to control body temperature through perspiration, but it doesn’t come as easy for dogs as us. Their pads are about the only areas they are able to perspire. So the only other way for them to cool their body down is by panting – they would rapidly exchange warm air with cool air to lower the blood temperature. But in a humid environment with little or no ventilation, the dogs’ cooling system would not function properly. This causes their body temperature to rise, opening the gate to heatstroke.
Causes for heatstroke
Being out in a hot place or under direct sunlight for a long time, e.g. going on long walks, heavy exercise, or keeping them in an airtight car while shopping are some of the causes for heatstroke.
Indoors is not an exception. You can leave your dog in the carrier, or even just leaving them in an un-air conditioned room can cause heatstroke as well. In this time of the year, your dog can be heat-struck anywhere, anytime. It can come when it’s least expected.
Possible symptoms of heatstroke
• Heavy breathing
• Woozy walking
• Body temperature rise (over 104°F)
• Overly salivating
• Redness of eyes and inner lips
• Vomiting, diarrhea
• Seizure, collapse
If your dog may be suspected of heatstroke, please call your local vet clinic as soon as possible.
What to do when your dog has heat-stroke
If you are able to catch it in the early stage symptoms such as a simple panting, you can take your dog to a shady area, offer water and rest, and in many cases they would recover. But if you see wooziness or collapse while walking, you must get your dog’s body temperature down as soon as possible.
When under heatstroke, the most important thing is to cool him down.
1. Take your dog inside or to a shady area
2. Offer water
3. Hose your dog’s body with plenty of water
4. Place cold towel, ice, or Ice Pack around the neck (this cools the blood going through the neck vein before reaching the cerebral area)
5. Turn electric fan on
Once the body temperature is down, take your dog to the closest vet clinic.
Breeds who especially need attention
You should be careful with all breeds, but large size dogs and short nosed dogs, such as Pugs, English Bulldogs, Boxers, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzu’s, etc. are especially vulnerable.
Summer season in Okinawa is long, and we still have a long way to go. Please continue to watch your dog for the smallest signs, and you would be able to save them from heatstroke, or other sicknesses too.