Archive for June, 2016

Heatstroke: Understanding and Preventing Heatstroke in our Pets.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
Heat stroke danger for pets

Staying cool in the summer

Summer has arrived and we have seen how quickly Chicago and the suburbs can heat up!

Early summer is the time when we see the most cases of heatstroke in our dogs and cats. They need special attention at this time of year and now is a good time to review the dangers of heatstroke and how best to prevent it.

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke, heat exhaustion, or hyperthermia occurs when internal heat cannot be expelled properly from the body and the internal body temperature begins to rise. We see this occur quickly on hot days.  However, humidity and body conditioning play a significant role as well.

bulldogs and heatsroke

The brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds of dogs, as well as bulldogs, pugs and Boston terrier, are very susceptible to heatstroke.

Cats and dogs can suffer from heatstroke.

Cats and dogs are both potential candidates for heatstroke.

The brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds, such as Himalayan and Persian cats, as well as bulldogs, pugs and Boston terrier dogs, to name a few, are far more susceptible to heat exhaustion and require even closer observation and care during the warmer months.

cats and heatstroke

Cats too, especially the brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds like Himalayans Persians, can be affected by heatstroke.

Heatstroke can develop quickly in as little as 15-20 minutes or it can gradually arise over the course of hours. Either way, it can progress rapidly once the temperature has elevated to cause extremely profound changes to the internal organs.

How do dogs and cats regulate their temperatures?

Dogs and cats are able to regulate their body heat through panting and evaporative cooling on their nose and foot pads.

preventing heatstroke

In addition to panting, pet’s foot pads help them regulate their temperature,

Unlike humans, they do not have a large network of sweat glands all over their body to help dissipate the heat. If their activity or exertion level exceeds their ability to cool themselves, their internal body temperature will rise. This can happen especially quickly when the external temperature and humidity are high or if there is inadequate ventilation, as can happen inside a closed car or any small confined space.

It can also happen even if your pet is playing or working in water if the water temperature is above 75 F.

It takes time for anyone to acclimate to a new environmental temperature and condition. Unfortunately nature does not always comply with this need; heat and humidity changes can be very abrupt and extreme at this time of year.

heat stroke carHeatstroke prevention and recognition of the signs are critical for survival.

Monitoring your pet carefully, avoiding closed confined areas, providing a cool, sun-free shelter, free access to moderate volumes of cool drinking water, and limiting strenuous activity are all common ways to help prevent excessive heat exposure.

Signs that could indicate your pet is overheating are:

panting as a warning signal of heatstroke

Normal panting helps pets regulate their temperature. Excessive panting is an early warning signal for heatstroke.


  •      – excessive panting
  •      – restlessness and inability to relax
  •      – history that your pet was in an exposed environment
  •      – body temperatures of 104 F and rising
  •     –  mouth and gums appearing dry and sticky
  •      – vomiting
  •      – diarrhea



heatstroke warning signs

Keep pets cool and relaxed on hot days.


  • – sticky gums and mouth with darker or grey coloration
  • – stumbling/ staggering
  • – body temperatures of 106 F and higher
  • – blindness
  • – vomiting with blood
  • – diarrhea with blood
  • – small bruises on skin and ears
  • – seizures
  • – loss of consciousness


heatstroke is a medical emergency, get help fast

Heatstroke can be life threatening.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency.         Heatstroke requires immediate attention and direct transportation to the veterinary hospital. The first goal to treating patients with heatstroke is to lower their body temperature as quickly as possible to prevent further damage to tissues and organs. The second goal is to treat and support any injured tissues and organ systems.

How do you cool down an overheated pet? What you should do immediately if you suspect heatstroke?

Move your pet to an open cool environment and, if possible, spray with cold water or place in a bath tub filled with cool water prior to transport. Alerting our veterinary staff as you head to the hospital directly can allow us to begin preparing for this life threatening emergency.

cool down your pet as quickly as possible when you suspect heatstroke

Use your air conditioner as you transport your pet for heatstroke treatment.

While heading to the hospital turn on air conditioning or open car windows to enhance the evaporative cooling.

A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association showed a significant improvement in the mortality rate for dogs in which the owners began cooling as they headed to their veterinary hospital.  There was a mortality rate of 49% for animals who were not initially cooled by their caregivers compared to 19% for those that had begun the cooling process.

Oak Park veterarian

Carlson Animal Hospital, 414 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL (708) 383.3606

Hospital Emergency Care

As soon as you arrive we will assess the severity of the heatstroke and continue to lower your pet’s body temperature. Care must be taken to avoid hypothermia (low body temperature) due to over correction which can be equally harmful.

In conjunction with cooling the patient we begin to treat, support, and carefully monitor for complications that can occur after exposure to excessively high temperatures.

monitoring for heatstroke hospital stays are required

Hospital support is critical when heatstroke affects a pet.

Our experience has shown that most pets require minimally 24-36 hours of hospital support and assessment. Whether feline or canine, no two cases of heatstroke are the same. There are a spectrum of significant problems that can occur and include: renal failure, pulmonary edema, hypotension, gastrointestinal translocation and ulceration, sepsis, cardiac arrhythmias, metabolic acidosis, hypokalemia, disruptions and/or failure in coagulation, and neurologic damage resulting in seizures, coma, or death,

Successful treatment and recovery from heatstroke hinges on early detection, direct treatment, and careful monitoring. One study reported that dogs that died often did so in the initial 24 hour period.

Prevention Prevails

Please be aware that confinement or exercise on hot and humid days may significantly increase the risk of heatstroke in our pets. Fully acclimating dogs and cats to a change in their environment is paramount.

In humans it may take up to 21 days to partially acclimate to a hot environment. Similarly our pets need time to adjust as well. Acclimation plays a major role in the increase of heatstroke cases in the early summer.

In addition to acclimation, make sure to provide an adequately ventilated and shady area. Keep outdoor time and activities limited and scheduled during the coolest part of the day.

cool your pet with water if you suspect heatstroke

Provide shade and cool water to help prevent pet heatstroke.

Always provide free access to cool drinking water and stay alert to the early clinical signs of heatstroke. Responding quickly will help keep our pets safe all summer long!

As you know, your pet’s health and your education are paramount for all of us at Carlson Animal Hospital. If you have any questions, please call us.

Update on the canine influenza virus H3N2

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Update on the new canine influenza virus H3N2 affecting the Chicago area.


dog flu outbreak

We recommend the H3N2 canine flu vaccination for high risk patients.

There is currently a resurgence of H3N2 acute canine influenza cases occurring in our area.

We continue to see dogs that present with respiratory signs that test positive for the H3N2 virus. These dogs frequently have had recent communal contact with other dogs at doggy daycare or boarding facilities usually 2-5 days prior.

Anecdotally, we have noticed that patients that have been immunized with the conditional vaccine marketed by the pharmaceutical company Zoetis have demonstrated much less severe symptoms and course of disease.   Also, many previously immunized patients did not develop the disease following direct exposure as well.  Therefore, we do advise if you have any questions regarding the new canine influenza virus or immunization please give our office a call.

We recommend immunizing any high risk patients for the canine influenza virus.

Lastly, if you have dogs that live with cats in your home, some cats have been diagnosed with the canine H3N2 influenza virus and are at risk for also developing clinical signs.   Unfortunately, there is no immunization available for cats at this time.  If you have any questions regarding your feline friend, please give us a call.

canine flu outbreak, Cats may be at risk for catching the H3N2 canine flu.

If you have any questions regarding your feline friend, please give us a call.