Summer is definitely here in Hong Kong with scorching temperatures and with that the danger of heatstroke in your pets.
Heatstroke is where the body temperature remains abnormally high (> 41c) for an extended period of time – and the higher the temperature, the faster the damage to vital organs and the higher the risk of permanent damage to organs such as kidneys, liver and brain.
Signs of heatstroke include collapse, weakness, dark red gums/tongue, drooling saliva and sometimes seizures.
Dogs normally release heat from the body by both evaporation and conduction. If they have a thick hair coat then conduction is difficult.
Dogs mainly get rid of excessive body heat by panting; unlike humans they do not have sweat glands all over their body, only in their feet and these are not used for heat loss.
Dogs make use evaporative cooling just like some air conditioners. Their tongue hangs out and dilated blood vessels on the tongue surface exchange heat with the air. This process, however, does require a lot of moisture which needs to be replaced by drinking, so it is vitally important that dogs also have ample supply of fresh water on hot days.
Snub nosed dogs such a Pekinese, Shih Tzu’s, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers have additional anatomical problems (small nasal openings, narrow upper airways and wind pipe) which make these breed at an even higher risk of heatstroke. These breeds can even suffer heatstroke indoors, even at rest.
This is a preventable disease and we do have some tips to follow to reduce the risks of heatstroke.
- Wherever possible try to avoid strenuous exercise in the full heat of the day. Try to choose a shaded path, rather than full direct sun.
- When travelling by car, make sure it is either air-conditioned or at least fresh air flowing through the cabin.
- NEVER leave a pet unattended in a parked car, or locked out on a small balcony in the sun.
- Make sure there is plenty of fresh water to drink on a long walk, its also a good idea to have a spray water bottle to cool the body. Use the convenient collapsible water bowls.
If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, we suggest the following measures:
- Get them away from the heat; find a shady, ventilated area immediately.
- Immerse the dog into cool water if available or pour water over their body.
- Get them to a Vet as soon as possible – time is critical, Our Victoria Veterinary clinic at Yuen Long has a 24 – hour Emergency care service.
- At the clinic our Vets will continue the cooling process, as well as commencing Intravenous fluids and medical treatment with the hope of protecting or minimizing damage to vital organs.
Please remember prevention is always better than cure, do your best to make it safe for your pets over the enjoyable summer period.