By EMILY FAWBUSH
Saturday was the first official day of summer and while everyone is enjoying the trips to the pool, picnics or whatever else people do besides lie in front of an AC unit and cry, I’ll be slowing dying inside as the busy season at the shelter reaches its worst.
There are ways you can help, though. DO NOT under any circumstance leave an animal in a car. It can take less than 10 minutes to reach 100 degrees in a car when the temperature outside is only 85. If you see an animal that has been left in a vehicle and there is no owner around you should call animal control or 9-1-1. If the animal appears to be in distress it would be advisable to contact 9-1-1 first, as I have been told animal control would need to have police present to remove the pet from the car.
Speaking of distress – it is also important to know the signs of heat stroke. The early symptoms are basics:
· Excessive panting/difficulty breathing.
· Excessive drooling with abnormally thick saliva.
· Bright red tongue and gum color.
· Confusion, inattention.
If you are able to get a temperature, unfortunately for both of you it needs to be taken rectally, anything 103 and higher is a cause for concern. As the animal’s condition worsens he/she may vomit or have bloody diarrhea, become wobbly and off balance, have a change in gum color from bright red to gray, and eventually collapse.
If a dog not locked in a car appears to be in heat distress the first thing you should do is move it into an air-conditioned area and take the temperature (YES RECTALLY!) If the temperature is above 103 you can apply cool water to inner thighs, stomach, and paws – making sure to monitor temperature change as to not cool the dog off too much causing hypothermia or shock. If the animal’s temperature is ever 104 or above it is very severe and pouring cool water all over and getting to an emergency vet clinic is best.
Using cold water or ice could do more harm than good, possibly causing the animal to go into shock. Covering with wet towels creates a “sauna” effect and does not cool the animal down properly. Lastly letting the animal drink or gulp large amounts of water while in distress could cause vomiting or bloat … and NEVER force water into the mouth of the animal.
Ideally you will want to get the animal to a veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke could be a symptom of an even bigger underlying problem. Monitoring the dog for the next few days is also very critical, as the damage to the blood cells could have caused organ damage.
I would like to end this post by saying that I am not a licensed veterinarian and if you do not feel comfortable and confident in doing any of the things I have mentioned – please, please, please do not do it. Call animal control or take the animal to the nearest vet clinic and leave it to the professionals.