The record heat of Labor Day reminded me of a case I saw a few years ago. One foggy morning, a young lady took her overweight Newfoundland on a hike up Bishop ™s Peak. It was very cool that morning, so she felt Jake ™s heavy coat would not be a problem. As they got about half way up the peak, the sun came out. Jake did his best to keep up, but he got so hot, he collapsed on the trail. Jake weighed 150 pounds and he was not willing to get up. His owner and her friends had to run down to the car to get a blanket and then back up to Jake so they could bring him down in a stretcher. Jake came to me about 2 hours after he collapsed. His temperature was 105, he was panting, but he was alert. We immediately started IV fluids and several techniques to cool him down. When his body temperature returned to 101 and he stopped panting, I was relieved. About 15 minutes later, Jake vomited, developed a severe diarrhea and the ECG was recording a very abnormal heart rhythm. Jake became very sedate and died within a few hours.
Jake had heat stroke, which basically cooked his internal organs. 5-10 minutes in a hot car or any exertion on a hot day can cause the death of a pet. If your pet collapses due to heat stroke, go directly to the veterinarian. Do not try to cool him off at home or wait to see if he gets better, as this can fool you into thinking he is okay. If you have questions about exercising pets or beating the heat, give us a call.
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP