With the onset of summer, the Essendon Veterinary Clinic has been experiencing more and more cases of heatstroke. One such case was Molly, an eight year old King Charles Cavalier who was presented to us in a distressed state on a very hot day. Molly's frantic owners had found her lying on her side panting heavily in the backyard with an excessive amount of saliva around her mouth.
Molly had been in regularly for check ups and had been found to have a problem with her heart that had not progressed in the past two years. During the warmer months, dogs that have trouble with their hearts and upper respiratory tracts are more prone to getting heatstroke as they are unable to get rid of heat as effectively as other dogs. A dog's main way of getting rid of excessive heat is across their upper respiratory tract in that they pant more when it is hot to help regulate their temperature.
When Molly was presented to us, she had a temperature of 41.1 degrees celcius (normal is between 38 and 39) and had dark pink sticky gums which told us that she was very dehydrated. She also had a high heart rate and an excessive amount of salivation. She was immediately admitted to hospital and placed on oxygen supplimentation and intravenous fluids with extra care being taken not to overload her already struggling heart with fluid. A blood test was also collected to eliminate other causes of heatstroke or diseases with similar presentations. Our nurses cooled her temperature slowly by using cold water washes around her tummy and groin. Constant checks were performed to assess her heart rate, the sound of her lungs, her temperature and her general demeanour. A repeat blood test was conducted to check the concentration of her red blood cells and thus her hydration after treatment and this was found to be much improved.
Molly recovered well and was home the next day after being closely monitored overnight at the Animal Accident and Emergency Centre at the Essendon Airport. On the very hot days Molly is now taken to work with one of her owners, which we hear she is really enjoying the extra attention from the other workers.
Read more on how to prevent your pet from heatstroke here.