As temperatures rise, pets, including dogs who love to play outdoors, are at higher risk for heat stroke. With our hot summer season ahead in Austin, play it safe, prevent heat stroke and know its signs and when to seek medical attention for your beloved pet.
What is Heat Stroke and How Do Dogs Get It?
Classic heat stroke in dogs occurs with exposure to high temperatures – something we’re familiar with in Austin. When a dog has a spike in body temperature the extreme heat stress can both impair breathing and injure organs. The condition can be fatal if left untreated.
Signs that Your Dog May Have Heat Stroke
There are many signs that can point to heat exhaustion or heat stroke in dogs, including excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit, along with an elevated body temperature of over 104°F. Dogs have very few sweat glands and lots of fur, so they can become overheated very quickly.
Which Types of Dogs are Most Susceptible to Heat Stroke?
Older dogs and those with a dark or dense hair coat are especially prone to heat stroke. Dogs like pugs with flat faces (short muzzles) cannot pant as effectively. These characteristics, as well as things like being elderly, overweight, and with heart and/or lung diseases put dogs at higher risk for heatstroke.
How Hot is Hot? Heat Stroke and Outdoor Temperatures
The rule of thumb is to keep your dog inside during the hottest part of the day. For us in Austin, the summer sun heats us up early, so walking and playing before 9:00 a.m. and the thermometer hitting 90°F is your safest plan.
Of note, car temperatures can be more than 40 degrees higher than outside temperatures. When it is 80°F in the early morning in Austin, parked car temperatures can rise to 99°F in just 10 minutes, even with windows left open. Keep your dog safe and comfortable in your air conditioned home.
How Do I Prevent Heat Stroke in My Dog?
During periods of hot and/or humid weather and when dogs are new to Austin’s extreme heat (for up to the first two months), avoid long periods of running and playing with them outside while they fully acclimate to summer temperatures.
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it is hot or humid outdoors. When outdoors, they need a cool, shady place to get out of the sun.
Again, dogs should never be left in parked cars for any amount of time.
What is the Best Treatment for Heat Stroke?
If signs of heatstroke are present, your dog should be immediately cooled to a rectal temperature of 103.5°F.
Start by spraying your dog with lukewarm water, draping a cold, wet towel over the dog, and placing the dog in front of a fan. Ice packs can also be placed on the neck region but they should be removed if the dog starts shivering or after 20 minutes of cooling with ice. Give you dog lots of cool water if tolerated.
“If your dog is having trouble breathing and has a temperature of 105° F or higher, they are in distress and at risk for organ damage,” according to Dr. Audrey Wystrach.
If your dog’s temperature remains high and they continue to experience trouble breathing, take the dog to a veterinarian on an emergency basis. Heat stroke can be life threatening.
Your veterinarian can administer refrigerated IV fluids that can improve internal cooling and help restore blood flow to vital organs and reduce further complications. Upon arrival, your dog’s airway will be checked for any upper airway obstruction and dogs that are having difficulty breathing might require oxygen therapy to breathe properly.
As Austin’s hottest season approaches, it’s the perfect time to come in for a checkup – particularly if you have short-snouted dog breed that’s susceptible to heat stroke. We make it easy to schedule an appointment to be sure your dog is ready to enjoy an Austin summer!
In order to provide the best care possible for our clients and their pets, we’re upgrading our online pet portal. The new portal will add several features that will make ZippiVet’s care even more convenient, including:
• Online appointment booking. Select your time and schedule appointments directly from the website.
• Online health records. Always have access to your pet’s healthcare information.
• Online payments and 24/7 access to payment history and account balance.
You can sign up for the pet portal at any time. Click here to register or visit the homepage and click on the “Book Now” link in the top right corner of the homepage. If you’ve already signed up for our previous pet portal, you’ll need to re-register. Registering only takes a few minutes.
As always, you can also call us to schedule an appointment by phone at (512) 904-0218.
Thank you for supporting ZippiVet! We appreciate all of our patients and are proud to enhance our ability to serve you.
It’s a known fact that heartworm is, quite literally, heartbreaking. Luckily, this deadly disease is easily avoidable with proper preventative care. One little pill or topical a month can save your dog a whole lot of pain and solitary confinement and save you lots of money and heartbreak.
How do dogs get heartworm?
Like many other dangerous pet parasites, heartworm is carried by mosquitos. A single mosquito bite can infect your dog – which makes Austin’s hot, wet climate particularly dangerous for dogs.
What is heartworm?
As its name suggests, heartworm is a parasite that infects the internal organs of your pet. When a mosquito carrying heartworm bites a pet, miniscule larvae can be deposited into the bloodstream. After six months, these larvae mature into adult heartworms. Adult heartworms can grow up to 12 inches long and usually lodge themselves into your pet’s heart, lungs and blood vessels.
What animals can get heartworm?
Dogs, ferrets, wolves coyotes, foxes and occasionally cats.
Can my dog get heartworm from other dogs?
Technically no, however any animal infected with heartworm could potentially pass it along to a mosquito, which could infect other animals. Regardless of whether your pet is an indoor or outdoor pet, or lives in a warm region or a cold one, your pet has a chance of getting heartworm.
What are the symptoms of heartworm?
One of the worst parts of heartworm disease is the fact that there are little to no symptoms. Early heartworm can have no symptoms but as the disease progresses, mild symptoms such as a persistent cough, lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss and a swollen belly from excess fluid can occur. If the disease involves multiple worms, cardiac blockage can occur resulting in caval syndrome: labored breathing, pale gums, bloody urine and cardiovascular collapse. Very few dogs survive caval syndrome even with surgery.
Because the symptoms can be difficult to detect it is crucial that you take your dog into your vet for heartworm detection regularly.
How can you treat heartworm?
The good news is that heartworm is treatable. The bad news is that it is expensive and can be very difficult for both you and the pup.
Typical heartworm treatment is as follows:
Diagnosis can be both costly and extensive. To determine whether your pup has heartworm and how bad the infection is, diagnosis usually requires several x-rays, blood work and several tests. Once the vet determines how severe the heartworm is they will be able to determine the proper treatment. Treatment usually involves several painful, arsenic based injections to treat the worms and larvae followed by an intensive one to three month period in which the dog may have very limited physical activity and even surgery.
How do you prevent heartworm?
Annual check ups and monthly preventive care are the best ways to avoid heartworm. Preventative care comes in both topical and pill form. However, if you miss a dose, you lower the effectiveness of prevention. Thus, we recommend regular parasite checks just in case.
When should my dog be tested for heartworm?
All dogs should be test annually during their routine checkup and maintain preventative care as prescribed by their vet.
To coincide with Austin’s rainy season, ZippiVet is offering free heartworm checks for Austin pet owners. Visit our offer page and schedule an appointment to make sure your dog is ready to enjoy an Austin summer!
Austin has recently been struck with lots of rain, and while the showers are great for our lawns and gardens, the rain can leave lots of puddles and standing water which can be dangerous for thirsty dogs. Street water can mix with dog feces, so when your dog bends down to get a big gulp of water, he or she may be unknowingly ingesting something more sinister – Giardia. If your dog suddenly has a bad case of diarrhea after a rainy day out at the park they may have contracted Giardia.
What is Giardia?
Giardia is an intestinal parasite caused by the protozoan parasite Giardia, while it has a scary name, Giardia is one of the more common intestinal parasites.
How do dogs get Giardia?
Dogs become infected with Giardia when they come in contact with infected feces, directly or indirectly. This means your pup can get it from eating the feces of another dog, playing or habiting in the same area as an infected dog, or drinking water from an outdoor puddle that happens to have come in contact with infected feces. The parasite loves cool standing water meaning spring showers is a crucial time to watch out for potential contact with Giardia.
While dogs of all ages can get Giardia, it’s more common in younger puppies. Up to 50% of young pups will develop Giardia and most dogs who are frequently boarded or kenneled with multiple dogs will get it.
How can I prevent Giardia?
There are several ways to avoid coming in contact with Giardia. When your dog is outside or playing with multiple dogs, watch what they’re eating. If you take your pup out after a rainy day, make sure they have access to clean drinking water at all times. Carefully handle all feces and properly discard it. Wash your hands immediately after handling dog feces.
What are the symptoms of Giardia?
The most common symptoms of Giardia are diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. While Giardia can be temporary, if the symptoms are ongoing they can cause dehydration, deteriorating health and potentially death.
What is the treatment for Giardia?
If you think your dog has Giardia or you notice dog vomit or diarrhea, contact ZippiVet immediately. We’ll be able to conduct a feces test and provide your pet with an antibiotic.
If you think your dog has giardia it is important to bring them into ZippiVet immediately to ensure they receive proper treatment and don’t infect other pets. Contact ZippiVet to discuss proper preventative care and to schedule a checkup.