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Pet Care with Hansel.

Vet Hansel answers your questions about pet care in this weekly advice column, created in partnership with the Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA). We will also be highlighting each week some of the animals in the BSPCA sanctuary, in the hope of finding each of them a loving home.

Question: I worry about my dog being outside in the heat. As the summer is approaching, can you please advise me on ways to avoid heatstroke in my dog?

Answer: As temperatures begin to rise, special care is needed to avoid heatstroke in our pets, which can be caused by exposure to the extreme temperatures of a Bahrain summer.

Heat stroke is a non-technical term for non-fever caused hyperthermia, a body temperature so far above normal that physiological processes are subjected to damage, the effects of which can be transient or permanent.

The higher the temperature and the longer the hyperthermia persists, the more damage it causes.

Although normal values for dogs vary slightly, body temperatures above 103F (39C) are abnormal.

The heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body cannot accommodate excessive external heat and heat stroke is associated with a body temperature of 41C or higher.

Heat stroke can lead to multiple organ dysfunction.

Make sure your pet has access to shade and a cool, well-ventilated area and a constant supply of fresh drinking water and take care not to over-exercise him in the heat.

Never leave your dog outside during the hottest part of the day.

It is also worth noting that certain types of dogs are more sensitive to heat, such as obese and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds.

Leaving dogs in a car in the heat is very dangerous.

Cars quickly become ovens and dogs can develop heat stroke and suffer a cruel death in just six minutes.

Even during the milder weather, the temperature can cause serious damage to your pet.

On a 25C day, temperatures in a car parked in the shade can exceed 32C and hit a scorching 71C if parked in the sun, even if the window is left slightly down.

Leaving your pet in a car with the air conditioning running is also taking a risk as air conditioners have been known to blow hot air in extreme heat.

If you spot any signs of heat stroke, which can include heavy panting, restlessness, excessive thirst, seizures or drooling, move your dog into the shade.

Place wet cloths on his foot pads and around his head, replacing frequently.

Avoid completely covering the body with wet towels, as it may trap in heat.

Do not use ice or ice water as they can cause the blood vessels to constrict, preventing the body's core from cooling and actually causing the internal temperature to rise further.

Over-cooling can also cause hypothermia.

When a dog's body temperature drops to around 39.4C, stop cooling as this is the point when your dog's body should continue to cool itself.

Offer your dog cool water, but do not force water into your dog's mouth.

Try not to let your dog drink excessive amounts at a time.

Call or visit your vet right away - even if your dog seems better.

Internal damage might not be obvious, so an exam and further testing are recommended.

If caught early enough, dogs can make a full recovery.

For further information visit the website www.merckmanuals.com.

l Dr Hansel Geo is a veterinary consultant and surgeon for the BSPCA. Please send questions to bspca@batelco.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Mar 1, 2014
Words:600
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