Birgit Pratcher


Heat Stroke and Pets

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Helpful hints on protecting your pets from Heat Stroke

While most of us suffer from too much heat, we often find ways to avoid the heat and heat stroke or heat-stress. We drink plenty of water, stay in air-conditioned rooms and avoid out-side activity as much as we can.

Still, some people will suffer from heat-stress and heat stroke this summer some will even perish. However terrible it is, this is not what this article is about. This is about the animals that suffer from the heat as much, sometimes even more.

Letís start off with our pets. Even though we love them dearly and do the best we can to provide for them, we might forget that they are even more sensitive to heat than we are.

While it is common knowledge that it is very dangerous and cruel to leave a dog in the car on a hot day, even temperatures from seventy degrees on can be deadly. The interior of the car, even with the windows cracked, can heat up to over 120 degrees in less than thirty minutes! So it might be a good idea to leave your dog at home while you are out on errands, the little suffering of loneliness is nothing compared to the suffering from the heat by your pet.

A lot of people love to take their dogs on their run with them, a game both, dog and owner often enjoy very much. Just during the hot summer time you should limit these outings to early morning or late evening to avoid heat strokes. Most dogs will keep running with their owner until they collapse, which is when it is often too late to help.

A good idea is to hose down the animal during the day for extra cooling, most if it is kept outside, or even leave a wading pool with a little water near by. Shade and fresh water is an absolute must! If you keep the animal chained in your yard, make sure a tangling of the leash will not prevent it from reaching shade and water!

Donít leave the animal in an overheated garage, lots of ventilation is most important! If you canít leave it in the house, rather provide a shaded place in the yard.

If the dog is staggering, vomiting, showing signs of bloody diarrhea, a body temperature of more than 104 F degrees, seizures or even unconsciousness, it could be signs of a heat stroke and the dog is in urgent need of medical help. For first aid use cool water not ice-cold. Then seek professional help.

Cats are as much in danger of heat stroke and heat-stress as well. To them the same rules apply, donít leave them in the car or poorly ventilated rooms, like a garage, donít play with them in the heat and donít leave them without water.

If your cat shows uncontrolled panting, pacing increased heartbeat or breathing with an open mouth or starts drooling, chances are it suffers from a heat stroke. Quickly cool down the body, avoiding the head, with cool water or cool towels and call your vet.

If you are a horse owner, avoid training the horse on hot days, if you suspect heat-stress, cool the horse down with the help of fans and ice packs or cold towels, mainly covering the legs and call your vet.

Always monitor the horses on hot days to avoid suffering from heat.

Donít place bird cages or fish tanks close to the window, the incoming sun can heat up their home so much that they will suffer from heat stroke and die. If there is no other place where you can place them, shade the window off with a dark pane. Even the rays of spring- and winter-sun can be deadly shooting through the window. Of course the same goes for reptiles!

Having covered some ground on our beloved pets, it is time to think about those who have no loving and caring owners, the strays!

There is no faucet out there that the animals can turn on to get a drink of water, no air condition they can adjust. If the period of heat turns into a drought, the animals will perish.

While many people donít like to have stray dogs and cats around, they do serve us well, cats make sure that mice are taken care of and sometimes rats or possums. The birds try their best to control the bugs for us. Even stray dogs can be a blessing, cleaning up the leftover burgers and food that so many careless people just toss on the ground. (You did not think that they come back to clean up, right?)

Even reptiles are suffering terribly from heat and drought. If they canít go to a cool place or underground, the heat will kill them!

We are not asking you to open up your own shelter for strays, we just recommend to do one small little thing: Put out water!

Shallow bowls with water, placed in shady spots can save the life of an animal. You donít need to put it right on your doorstep, it does not even need to be inside your own yard, a discreet, but shady corner around the place you live or along the road to work will not give you a lot of trouble and a short walk, once or twice a day to refill the water will do much good! It will even save some animalís life.

If you have a yard or garden, birdbaths, filled with water will not only look very nice, it will also ensure year-round visitors in many sizes and colors.

By Birgit and Roger Pratcher

© July 2006


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