Saturday, July 11, 2009

Too Hot to Breathe

The other night when the girls and I got home from Dog Park, I noticed that Roma was panting a great deal and having a hard time settling down. I immediately reached for my bible of dog care, The American Animal Hospital Association Encyclopedia of Dog Health and Care, to look up heatstroke or heat exhaustion. (I was at first confused. One of the symptoms was nausea. I thought, "How would I know that Roma felt nauseated?" Then I realized that I had grabbed the handbook of health for people—it's the same color and shape as the dog book. I've mixed these two books up before. Believe me, it's a little disconcerting to be looking at one's gums pinking up in the mirror before realizing one has been following the dog care book's instructions.) 

Just for your information, here are the symptoms of heat stroke in dogs:
  • rapid breathing through the mouth
  • increased heart/pulse rate
  • reddened gums
  • vomiting
  • moisture accumulating on the feet
  • a dull staring expression
  • thickened saliva
  • body temperature up to 110 degrees F
Roma was panting but not laboring in her breathing, and she looked a bit confused, but the other symptoms did not apply. 

Here is the recommended treatment for mild cases:
  • Move the dog to a cool place and get him or her to drink cool water
  • If the dog feels hot or has a high temp, place him or her in the tub or shower and dowse with cold water
  • Apply ice packs to the dog's head, chest, and thighs
Of course, you already know that if the dog is seriously in trouble, you should take him or her to the vet immediately. (The Park's closest 24-hour emergency vet clinic is Austin Vet Care at 4106 North Lamar--across from Central Market. The number is 672-0769.)

Roma often forgets or refuses to drink water at the Park—unless I specifically pour it for her and stand next to her while she drinks. Thursday night I had forgotten to be vigilant, and we were at Park for several hours—though mostly after dark. Instead of freaking her out by dumping her in the tub, however, I wiped her down with a cool wet cloth and held a towel-wrapped bag of frozen peas to her head and tummy. (If you ever come to my house, don't eat the peas in the freezer.) Finally, (duh!) I put a bowl of water in front of her and told her to drink, which she did. Shortly afterward, she settled down and went to sleep and was fine the next morning. Still, I made sure that she did not spend time outside other than for short pee breaks and made plans for waiting until dark at Park.

It's easy to forget that our dogs can't always moderate their behavior in the heat, especially when they are having fun chasing and running. Roma careens around Park even in 100 degree weather in her endless search for treats and attention. From now on, though, I'll remember that she's not the best judge of the temperature. I may have to leash her in order to make sure she stays cool, but those are the breaks. Stay cool everyone, and have a good weekend. 

1 comment:

  1. I think I should probably add that book to my library and start carrying a water bottle at the park and not just depend on passing by the bucket.

    Glad that Roma is OK. You are a good and vigilant care giver!


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