Video and story by Tinu Thomas, Liam Alteneder and Blaise Compton
This summer the National Weather Association reported Austin shattered several all-time high temperatures. The record high heat isn’t just a problem for human residents, dog owners need to be wary that the record high heat is especially dangerous for their four-pawed friends.
Dr. Jacquelyn Chow, a veterinarian at BEEVET Animal Hospital, said her animal hospital has experienced an influx of dogs being brought in due to heat stroke this summer.
“I have seen more this summer probably than last summer,” Dr. Chow said. “Owners that have told me that their dog has just died. I’ve actually had a couple of patients like that, where they were out in the heat and they collapsed and they died just like that.”
Dr. Chow said that many dog owners aren’t familiar with the toll that high heat takes on a dog and reminds dog owners that their pets are not going to be the ones to tell them until it’s probably too late.
“When they come in, oftentimes their body temperature is somewhere between 106-110 degrees and they’re having seizures and they’re in shock,” Dr. Chow said. “They’re just so hot. It’s just a race to try and get them stabilized.”
Dr. Chow said the most common presentations of heat stroke she has seen has been owners have their dog running around in the yard or at the park. She said owners can take several precautionary measures in order to prevent heatstroke in dogs.
“Bring them indoors, make sure there’s plenty of water to access,” Dr. Chow said. “It’s really important to stay hydrated.”
While it is more efficient to take precautions to ensure your dog doesn’t overheat during this summer, it is also important to know the signs of overheating and what to do if the situation escalates to being deadly.
Chris McElroy is a dog handler at the Yard Bar, an outdoor dog park and bar in Austin. McElroy said he and his coworkers have been warned and trained to deal with the signs of overheating in dogs.
“The first step is kind of get a visual of the dog, see how they’re moving,” McElroy said. “If they’re kind of just slow, lethargic, looking down, or if they seem dazed and confused. Another step that we take is we check the gums of the dog, and usually, if the gums are really red, usually that’s a clear sign of dehydration.”
According to Dr.Chow, taking the wrong actions during a situation where your dog is overheating can lead to even more dangerous situations.
“We don’t want to dunk them in ice, because when you do that,” Dr. Chow said. “The body temperature will plummet suddenly and then you end up with hypothermia and that can be equally as challenging.”
Dr. Chow said it’s important to your dog to a veterinarian as soon as signs or symptoms of overheating are present.
“If they’re having seizures or collapsed,” Dr. Chow said. “Time is really of the essence so you have to get them to the nearest veterinary clinic as soon as possible.”