JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Doctors at a 24-hour animal critical care center in Jacksonville say they’re seeing an increase in the number of dogs suffering from heat stroke coming into the emergency room.
Dr. Leo Londono, a critical care specialist at Capital Veterinary Specialists in Mandarin, told News4JAX that three factors are playing a major role in the sudden spike in these cases:
- Much hotter temperatures compared to last year
- More humidity
- Dog owners not paying attention to how long they keep their pets exposed to those elements
“Increased exposure puts the animals at a greater risk,” said Londono. “On top of that, humidity plays a big role, too. There are times during the day when humidity is almost 100%, and that also exacerbates the heat stroke condition.”
It’s a condition that begins with neurological symptoms such as depression and seizures. As the condition gets worse, so do the symptoms.
“Multi-organ failure. Their kidneys fail. The liver fails, and they need aggressive therapies,” Londono said.
Those aggressive therapies, which could take days in the critical care unit, don’t come cheap — thousands of dollars to try and save a family pet that may or may not survive.
In some cases, Londono said, “By the time they come in, either they arrive dead or by the time, we get to them, it’s too late.”
And while any dog can succumb to heat stroke, all dogs with shortened snouts that are accustomed to being indoor pets but spend too much time in the heat and humidity are at a higher risk.
“Boxers, pugs, French bulldogs have become popular that have become at high risk for this condition,” Londono said.
Dog owners are being advised to:
- Limit their pet’s heat exposure by bringing them indoors as opposed to letting them stay in the yard all day
- Limit the time they spend at the beach during daylight hours
- Be careful about allowing their dog to go jogging with you when heat and humidity are at their highest
“They will run until they collapse and go neurological and develop a heat stroke,” Londono said.
Basically, if it’s too hot and humid for you to be outside for an extended period of time, it’s likely too hot and humid for your dog.
As for people who don’t allow their dogs to come indoors but do make sure their dog has a water bowl to stay hydrated, Londono said there are some dogs that have been outside for years prior to this summer and have become acclimated to hot weather. But he said it’s still a good idea to bring them indoors where they cool off.
In addition to the heat strokes, doctors also say they’re seeing dogs come in with burnt paw pads from walking on hot asphalt.