Record heat sending dogs to the emergency room

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LA MESA, Calif. -– Local veterinarians told FOX 5 Thursday the record heat and humidity is showing a spike in heat-related problems at pet hospitals across the county.

“I just saw a dog this morning and he was having heat issues,” said Dr. Trevor Garb, veterinarian at Pet Emergency and Specialty Center in La Mesa.

Garb said the animal hospital has had a busy summer.

“We’re seeing a lot of things related to the heat like heat stroke and respiratory crisis,” Garb said. “We have had some fatalities associated with the heat.”

A week ago, the hospital reported a fatality related to heat and Thursday morning, doctors saw two cases before noon.

Garb reminded pet owners the problems can be prevented.

“Unlike people dogs and even cats, are unable to sweat so the way they get rid of heat is by panting,” Garb said.

He said it’s never a good idea to exercise your dog in hot weather, but if you have to, use common sense.

“If you want to exercise your dog, take them somewhere with water,” Garb said. “Fiesta Island or the beaches that allows them to go swimming.”

Also, let your dog lead the activity. If they don’t want to go out or they sit down as soon as they get a few hundred yards, that’s a good sign the dog is recognizing it’s too hot for that activity.

Beware of signs of overheating.

“You can tell when a dog is uncomfortable, if they’re panting and not cooling down, hot to touch,” Garb said.

Immediately call your veterinarian if your dog has a red tongue or gums. Give the dog a cool bath and apply alcohol to the pads of his feet.

“Just take some rubbing alcohol and just put it on the dog’s footpads,” Garb said. “If you put the alcohol on their foot pad, as that evaporates, that pulls heat off.”

It won’t cure your dog completely, but it will help and in many cases even save lives.

“The earlier you initiate treatment, the better," Garb said.

For more information on how to recognize a pet emergency, click here.

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