Surge in dog heatstroke cases

Dominique BayensGeraldton Guardian

A surge in cases of canine heatstroke has a Geraldton vet concerned dog owners are not taking proper steps to ensure their pets are protected from the heat over the summer.

Midwest Vet Centre veterinarian Lucy Rose said she had dogs come into the clinic suffering from symptoms of heatstroke after being left in the back of utes or exercised in high temperatures.

“People don’t seem to realise the seriousness of it,” Dr Rose said.

“Dogs that have been walked in the heat of the day or exercised, hunting dogs and things like that have been taken out … and have come home and collapsed or really struggle — vomiting, things like that, that’s how they often present.”

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While initial symptoms of heatstroke — including excessive panting, vomiting, lethargy and diarrhoea — are treatable, Dr Rose said severe cases could be fatal.

“Basically, what happens is the cells in the body start to break down and they can haemorrhage and that’s when they can really go downhill,” she said.

Dr Rose said dog owners should take their dogs for exercise in the early morning or evening to avoid them overheating or burning their paws.

“If you can’t hold your hand on the bitumen for more than three to five seconds, then it’s too hot for your dog’s feet to walk on there,” she said.

“If you’re keeping them outdoors, things like paddle pools, clam shells, things like that are really good to have in your backyard.” Dr Rose said owners leaving their dogs in cars over the summer were also a cause for concern.

“Even if you’re popping in the shops quickly to get a few things … even if the car is in the shade, temperatures can reach fatally high temperatures quite quickly,” she said.

“All it takes, really, on a hot day — five minutes in a hot car, even with the windows cracked, is too long.”

If a dog shows heatstroke symptoms, Dr Rose said owners should hose them down with tepid water and keep them hydrated.

“If they’re concerned the dogs not cooling — if they’re still really panting — bring them to a vet and we’ve got some extra things we can do here,” she said.

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