Hurricane season in New England lasts from June to the end of November, but emergencies also come in less predictable forms throughout the year, such as house fires and tornadoes. When disaster strikes, your pets are almost completely dependent on you to survive.
Follow Concord Animal Hospital's 5-point emergency checklist to keep your pets safe during an emergency.
For new puppy owners, the number of vaccines available for dogs can feel overwhelming. Concord Animal Hospital is here to help! Here are answers to a few common questions:
What is a vaccine? A vaccine exposes the immune system to inactive or incomplete disease-causing agents to train the immune system to quickly and effectively respond when exposed to the real deal. It is a safe way to protect your dog from some scary, often life-threatening diseases.
Are vaccines safe? There are isolated cases of allergic reactions, but these are rarely life threatening when treated appropriately. We generally limit the number of vaccines given at once – your Veterinarian will discuss the safest vaccine schedule for your puppy. Call us or a 24-hour emergency hospital immediately if you observe hives, swelling around the face or vomiting.
What are the core vaccines that CAH Vets recommend? There are two vaccines that we strongly recommend for your dog:
Important to know: if your dog is bitten or bites another animal, get the contact information of the other animal’s owner if possible and call us immediately. We will go over state regulations around rabies booster vaccines and quarantine.
What other vaccines do CAH Vets recommend? The following are non-core vaccines. We will work with you to assess your pet’s risk of contracting one of these diseases and decide together if your pet should receive the following vaccines.
Concord Animal Hospital's tips to keep your pet safe from ticks and tick-borne illnesses
Our clients are calling daily with questions and concerns about ticks - we are here to help! Here are answers to the four top ticks questions local pet owners are asking our medical team.
What Kind of Ticks Are in Our Area?
There are three main types of ticks in the Concord, Massachusetts area:
While people follow precautions for keeping themselves safe from ticks such as using bug spray and wearing long pants and socks, it’s important to do the same for our four-legged friends, too.
How Can I Keep My Dog Safe from Tick-Borne Diseases?
Our veterinarians at Concord Animal Hospital strongly recommend using tick preventatives such as Bravecto or Simparica/Simparica Trio. While these chewable tablets are very effective at preventing tick-borne illnesses, they do not repel ticks. Instead they kill ticks several hours AFTER the tick bites your pet. For this reason, some clients double-up with a repellent collar in addition to a chewable tick preventative.
Talk to one of our veterinarians to determine the best product for your pet given their health history, potential exposure to ticks and lifestyle.
Should I use a tick preventative year-round?
Yes, yes, and double yes! Frost and freezing temps DO NOT kill ticks. Ticks are dormant but come back to life in only 40 degrees - a high often achieved even in the coldest months. Our veterinarians see plenty of dogs with tick-borne illnesses throughout the winter.
Our vets also suggest taking added precautions such keeping your dogs out of long grass or and away from undergrowth. These areas are where dogs like to sniff and explore, but they are also prime hangouts for ticks.
After a walk, the American Kennel Association recommends checking some spots you might forget to look, such as inside ears and between toes, to make sure your pet didn’t bring any ticks home with them.
What Do I Do If I Find a Tick on My Dog?
If you find a tick on your dog, remove it as soon as possible! If it hasn’t attached itself yet, there is no risk of tick-borne illness for your pet. If it has attached, grasp the tick with a pair of tweezers as close to the site of attachment as you can and pull straight back.
If you have found an attached tick, particularly one that is engorged, the MSPCA advises noting the date and time to discuss with your veterinarian.
Watching for the following symptoms, but be aware that symptoms may not appear until several weeks or even months after exposure:
Vaccines are an important piece of your pet’s preventative health care. A vaccine exposes your dog or cat’s immune system to an inactive or incomplete disease-causing agents to train the immune system to quickly and effectively respond when exposed to the real disease. It’s a safe way to protect your pet from some scary, often life-threatening diseases such as distemper and rabies.
The benefits of vaccines typically far outweigh the risks of a vaccine reaction. There are isolated cases of pets having allergic reactions to vaccines, but these reactions are rarely life threatening when treated appropriately.
At CAH, we want pet owners to know what a vaccine reaction looks like and when a reaction requires medical attention. “Seeing your pet have a vaccine reaction can be frightening,” says CAH veterinarian Dr. Bradford Hardie. “It’s important to understand what reactions are mild and short-lived and which are medical emergencies.”
Here are the six things all pet owners should know about vaccines reactions:
Proper Paws' Judy Bernard on Training Tips for Pandemic Puppy Owners (part 3 of 3)
While the idea of returning to our pre-pandemic lives might be exciting for us humans, we must warn you that the road will be rocky for many pets. This will be particularly true for puppies who have only known a world where they are surrounded by their beloved humans. We humans have been home all the time: not going into work, not vacationing, not visiting friends & family, and not going out to dinner. As we receive our vaccines and begin to venture out, our puppies might have a problem. Fortunately, Judy has thoughts on how we can prep our puppies and dogs for the changes coming their way.
Katherine: How do you expect puppies to react as their owners begin to venture out of the house without them? In some cases, for the first time in these puppies’ lives?
Judy: Separation issues are bound to happen in a time where we are all working from home and our dogs have gotten used to us being here. Let’s face it: we are all pack animals and having our pack around us all the time is very comforting. That said, reality will return and our puppies and dogs will need to get used to us NOT being home 24/7. The key to making sure they are as unaffected by this changes as possible is to start practicing now.
Katherine: How should we practice leaving our puppies and dogs alone?
Judy: Here are some quick thoughts on how to make your dog’s transition back to ‘normalcy’ as uneventful as possible. Set up a regular routine where you leave the house without your dog. Try to do this as close to your expected normal time as possible and do it every day. Start with short trips away, like to check your mailbox, and extend the trips as your dog gains comfort and confidence.
Set your dog up for success as you train them to be alone. Make sure the dog’s physical and mental needs are taken care of before you leave. Feed and exercise the dog and make sure they have eliminated. When you leave, make sure your pet is in a puppy/dog proof environment. A crate is preferred for young puppies who may eliminate, chew things, or otherwise get into trouble. You may need to revisit crate training prior to starting this routine if your puppy/dog isn’t comfortable being in the crate. Give them a stuffed Kong or other safe high value treat to work on while you are gone.
Make leaving and coming as much of a non-event as possible and do it multiple times a day. The more practice the dog gets with short, happy absences the better.
Katherine: What can owners do if their dog doesn’t react well to being left along?
Judy: If the dog reacts poorly, stop and re-evaluate your plan. You may have to start with smaller steps, like leaving the room but not the house to begin with. It may help to use an automated food delivery device to associate your leaving with a steady flow of food. If your dog will not eat or engage with a high value treat (like a stuffed Kong) in your absence this is a sign of heightened stress and anxiety.
In the case of extreme anxiety, fear, or stress you may need to consult with your veterinarian and/or a behavior professional for a behavior modification plan. Signs of extreme anxiety/stress include:
Part 2 in a 3 part series with Proper Paw's Judy Bernard on socializing puppies during COVID-19
Katherine: What are you recommending to new puppy owners to get their pups ready to see the vet without their owners?
Judy: I recommend spending time each day getting your pet used to the things they will see and experience while at the vet, AND associating those things with high value treats. This will help lessen the stress and anxiety they will experience when they do visit the vet.
Katherine: What are some of the activities you find work well?
Judy: Here are some things you can do to help your pet with future vet visits:
Katherine: Any watch outs new owners should be aware of?
Judy: Remember these exercises should be a fun game for your dog, if at any point the dog begins to show signs of stress or anxiety (tail tucked, head lowered, growling, backing away), STOP, jolly things up, play tug or fetch (whatever your dog likes), and FEED those high value treats! If the fear persists, call a dog training professional familiar with cooperative care training.
Vet visits should be fun, if we play pretend vet at home we get our puppy/dog familiar with all the things they will see while they are at the vet. By associating all of those pretend vet actions with high value food reinforcers we are setting the puppy/dog up to have as stress free experience as possible.
Part 1 in a 3 part series with Proper Paw's Judy Bernard on socializing puppies during COVID-19
A happy effect of the pandemic is what we in the biz are calling pandemic puppies. With the activities that take us humans away from home on hold – commutes, long work and school days, travel for work and fun, nights out – many of us have decided that this is a great time to bring home a new four-legged friend. We have more time to train them and lots of time to enjoy them.
For many families, a new pet is a bright spot, a way to make this complicated time special.
As much as this is a fabulous time to bring home a new pet, the pandemic-enforced isolation presents specific challenges for owners of new puppies, but we’re here to help!
Concord Animal Hospital’s Katherine Wilson spoke with Judy Bernard, owner of Proper Paws Dog Training right here in Concord, Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed, and member Association of Professional Dog Trainers to get her thoughts on how new dog owners can face the challenges the pandemic presents. The result is a three part series for new puppy owners:
A dog that is not exposed to a variety of stimuli during this critical period is at risk of developing behavior problems later on."
Katherine: For our new puppy owners, can you explain what is puppy socialization?
Judy: First let me tell you what puppy socialization IS NOT. Puppy socialization is not having your new puppy play with every dog in the neighborhood. It’s not making your dog walk up to noisy garbage trucks or school buses that frighten them. It’s also not having every person that walks by them on the sidewalk stop and pet them! Even during a pandemic, we can socialize our dogs quite well while still maintaining appropriate social distancing. In some cases, it makes it EASIER!
Socialization is exposing your new puppy to as many new and novel experiences as you can in a way that is positive and enjoyable for the puppy.
Puppies go through a critical developmental period from about 3-12 weeks where they are most amenable to experiencing new things. This period is called the Primary and Secondary Socialization period. This period is tied to the development of social patterns and provides a foundation for many adult dog behaviors.1 In short, a dog that is not exposed to a variety of stimuli during this critical period is at risk of developing behavior problems later on.
Katherine: How should new puppy owners socialize them?
Judy: It’s really important to carefully expose your 7-14 week old puppy to lots of novel stimuli. This means taking the dog for rides in the car, walks on all different substrates, climbing in out and of boxes, eating out of different dishes, seeing different animals (cats, horses, chickens), and generally experiencing every possible place or thing you might expect your dog to go and see when they are grown.
Keep your trips short and enjoyable! Make sure you have plenty of yummy treats with you, if the puppy seems worried – feed them. While puppy play dates with other puppies of similar age, size and temperament are a PART of socialization, socialization doesn’t begin and end with puppy playdates.
Katherine: What else should new puppy owners know about socializing their dog?
Judy: Socialization also does not begin at 7 weeks or end at 12 weeks. Breeders can do a lot to help a dog develop resilience in their adulthood with early handling, brief interludes of separation from the pack, taking the puppies on rides in the car, introducing them to crates, etc.2 Older puppies that are rescued can also benefit from CAREFUL exposure to novel stimuli.
Older puppies tend to be more fearful but this doesn’t mean we should stop socializing. It does mean we need to be careful to make sure the experiences your dog is getting are positive. Make sure you have an ample supply of yummy treats on hand and use them to help your dog associate the new things they are seeing with good treats. Never force your dog to approach something it fears, no matter how silly it may seem. Instead, let your dog choose the distance they want to keep and help them associate that very scary garbage can, vending machine or snowman with something good by feeding them every time they see that scary thing!
Check back in February for part 2 in our Training Tips for Pandemic Puppy Owners: Helping your dog with vet visits during a pandemic.
It's the time of year to write our New Year's resolutions. This year lets get our pets in on the act!
How COVID-19 is impacting pet health
Pet obesity was already on the rise before the pandemic, with over half of all cats and dogs in the U.S. overweight or obese. This problem has intensified along with the pandemic according to a survey from Hill's Pet Nutrition, conducted in partnership with Kelton Global. One third of pet parents with an overweight pet say their pet became overweight since the start of the pandemic. Many of us are home all day, continually giving pets treats and exercising less. All of this comfort and indulgence can put your pet at risk for serious health issues. According to CBS News, common obesity-related conditions for dogs and cats include arthritis, bladder and urinary tract disease, diabetes, as well as excess stress on the heart and joints.
How can you tell if your pet is overweight?
As Dr. Wilson, a veterinarian at Concord Animal Hospital (CAH), explains, a good indicator of whether your pet might be packing some extra pounds is to take a close look at your cat or dog. “If you see their ribs, they are too skinny. If you can’t see their ribs and you can’t feel them with your hands when you rub the side of their chest, your pet may be overweight.”
How can help your pet maintain a healthy weight?
You can dramatically improve your pet’s quality of life and life expectancy—not to mention, avoid additional veterinary bills—when you help your cat or dog maintain a healthy weight.
We can help you do this in 2021! Dr. Wilson has five tips for pet owners:
Concord Animal Hospital’s 5 New Year's resolutions to keep your pet’s weight in check:
Wishing you all a very healthy and happy 2021!
You've all heard the jokes: COVID-19 keeping pet owners home-bound is a dog's dream come true, a cat's worst nightmare. While our canine and feline friends may disagree on whether having us home all day is a good thing, a quieter Halloween may be a silver lining of this pandemic that they can both enjoy!
If you do plan to answer the door with your dog, keep your pooch on a leash. This will prevent a nervous dog from becoming aggressive with a trick-or-treater or unexpectedly bolting out the door. If your pet does escape from the house, slip a leash, or somehow become lost, having an ID tag worn on their collar and a microchip dramatically increases the odds that you’ll be reunited with your pet. Make sure your pet’s ID tag has up-to-date contact information and that your microchip manufacturer has your current address and phone number.
Though the terrifying “ding dong” of Halloween might be missing for most pets this year, there are a few other dangers pet owners need to be aware of. Here are Concord Animal Hospital’s top three safety tips to keep your pet healthy & happy this Halloween.
According to the AVMA, a study of almost 8,000 stray pets at shelters showed that dogs with microchips were returned to their owners at twice the rate as those without microchips. The chances increase even more dramatically for cats: microchipped cats were returned to their owners almost 40% of the time compared to less than 2% of cats without microchips. When microchipped pets weren't returned to their owners, it was often due to missing or incorrect owner information in the microchip registry database – it's critical to keep your information updated for microchips to work.
Does CAH recommend microchipping patients? Absolutely! A microchip is a safe and cost-effective way to dramatically increase the chances of recovering your pet. Most countries also require a microchip for jet-setting pets - check the USDA website and contact our office for questions about microchipping and other requirements for international pet travel.
How is a microchip implanted? A microchip is a small electronic chip about the size of a grain of rice that is implanted under the skin with a hypodermic needle. "Despite being given with a larger needle, chip implantation is similar to giving your pet a vaccine and can be done during a routine visit to your vet," says Dr. Stephen Wilson. No anesthesia or surgery is required, though implantation can be done while your pet is under anesthesia for a spay, neuter, dental or other procedure.
Is a microchip safe? Yes! Implantation is about as painful as a typical injection and adverse reactions to implanted microchips are extremely rare. A microchip can be implanted during a routine vet appointment.
How does a microchip work? Microchips are activated by a scanner's radio waves - there is no battery in the microchip. A veterinarian or shelter employee will scan your pet for a microchip. If a chip is found, the chip manufacturer is contacted with the chip ID number and they will reach out to you - your information is not provided to the person who found your pet! If your contact information is missing or incorrect, your chances of getting your pet take a nose dive, so make sure to keep your information current with your microchip manufacturer!
What are the limitations of a microchip? A microchip should not replace an identification tag. Typically, lost pets are found within a few hours by a good Samaritan or local dog officer and an ID tag is a quick and easy way for someone to coordinate the return of your little wanderer. A microchip doesn't replace a rabies tag, which is necessary for your pet's safety and required by Uncle Sam. A microchip is also not a tracking device - the chip is only activated when a veterinarian or other professional scans your pet.
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New data indicates that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, can infect cats, though it still doesn’t appear to infect dogs. It’s still unclear whether cats can spread the virus to people, so we urge caution but not alarm.
With the first case of an animal in the US testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, pet owners are understandably concerned. Two days ago a tiger in a zoo in New York City was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19. Outside of the US there have been a handful of reported SARS-CoV-2 positive pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) lists two dogs in Hong Kong, one cat in Hong Kong, and one cat in Belgium that have also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
COVID-19 in Dogs and Other Animals
Data continues to indicate that dogs aren’t really susceptible to the infection. The same goes for pigs, chickens, and ducks, all included in the study published in Nature. However Ferrets are highly susceptible to COVID-19.
Keeping pets safe
We urge an abundance of caution to protect pets. If you are ill with COVD-19, restrict contact with your pet and have another member of the household feed and care for your pet if possible. The US Center for Disease Control advises that if “you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.” Don’t share bedding or any dishes, towels, drinking glasses with other people or pets in your home.
While we urge caution, there isn’t any reason a pet would need to leave a home where someone is infected with COVID-19 unless no one in the home will be able to care for the pet appropriately.
It’s a good idea to have a two-weeks supply of your pet’s food and medicines in case you are diagnosed with COVID-19, are quarantined or are self-isolating and can’t leave your home.
Please continue to reach out with questions and concerns. We are open and here for you and your pet!
Need to pick up your heartworm or flea & tick preventatives?
Stop by to pick up at CAH or try ordering from our online store!
These pests are tougher than you think!
Concord Animal Hospital’s team of veterinarians gets questions about CBD and pets almost every day – here’s their take CBD and your pet.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a product of both the cannabis and hemp plants. It is only legal when it is derived from hemp – any product for sale containing CBD should not be derived from cannabis. CBD does not have psychoactive properties. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component of cannabis, or marijuana.
What research has been done on CBD and pets?
Not enough! “At this point there are very few published results that determine benefits of CBD for pets or how it interacts with other medications or supplements,” notes Dr. McCullough. “Not only have benefits not been confirmed by the research, but proper dosing and CBD toxicity levels have not been defined.”
There is anecdotal evidence that CBD may have benefits for pets. These claimed benefits include reducing inflammation, stimulating appetite, reducing anxiety, and controlling seizures. There are studies underway and all in the veterinary community eagerly await the results.
Pet due for a visit? Book an appointment today!
What is Concord Animal Hospital’s stance on CBD?
Our team of veterinarians suspects that there CBD does have health benefits for pets. However, there are significant knowledge gaps in the science, safety, and quality of CBD for pets. Until there are published studies on the safety and efficacy of CBD and standardized dosing, we do not recommend that our clients administer CBD products to their pets.
Though we don’t recommend CBD products, we want our clients to be open with us about CBD products that they are administering to their pets and to feel that they can ask us questions about CBD. We’ll discuss CBD for your pet to the best of our knowledge. We’re your partner in your pet’s healthcare and want you to feel that you can be transparent with us!
KNOW WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP - WHEN IN DOUBT JUST GIVE US A CALL!
Call us at 978-369-3503 or email at email@example.com if you
have any questions or concerns about your pet's health - we're always happy to help!
All of us at CAH wish you and your family, including the furry ones, a very safe and happy holiday!
Thanksgiving is a time for indulgence and overeating for many of us, but don't let the excess extend to your four-legged family members. It’s for their own safety!
Want to give your pet a special treat during the holidays? Instead of sharing your meal, the Animal Rescue League of Boston recommends traditional treats that are safe for dogs and cats or something special like a food puzzle or an interactive toy like a peanut butter filled Kong. Dr. Stephen Wilson of Concord Animal Hospital notes that “in moderation, a small piece of lean turkey meat or some chopped carrots are reasonably safe treats for those doe-eyed dogs.”
If you have any concerns about something your pet has eaten, call us at 978-369-3505. If our office is closed, call the Pet Poison Hotline at 855-764-7661 or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. A fee may apply for calling these or other poison control hotlines.
We wish you and your family (including the pets!) a safe & happy Thanksgiving!
CAH’s own Dr. Stephen Wilson explains what Massachusetts dog and cat owners need to know about the risk of EEE to our pets now that this virus has arrived in our community.
What about other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other parasites?
Learn more about heartworm and other illness that can be transmitted to our pets by fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
Concord Animal Hospital slices through the hype
Americans are increasingly concerned with where their food comes from and achieving the right nutritional balance for a longer, happier and healthier life. And of course, that includes finding the best food for their furry family members!
In an effort to improve their pets’ health, many pet moms and dads are turning to alternative diets such as grain-free pet food. And they're willing to spend big money to make sure their pet is getting the best! According to the New York Times, grain free diets accounted for nearly $2.8 billion in 2017, up from $1 billion in 2011. Owners are looking for the very best for their pets and many are replacing grains such as corn, rice and wheat traditionally found in dog food with alternatives such as chickpeas, lentils and sweet potatoes.
The most at-risk population for malmourishment are growing pets, such as puppies and kittens, cautions Dr. McCullough. "It's critical to discuss your young pet's nutritional needs before trying alternative diets."
Wild dogs only live three-to-five-years due to malnutrition, parasites, and a myriad of other diseases and maladies from which we diligently protect our pets. Their lifestyle and lifespan isn’t what should aspire to for our pets!" says Dr. Rhea McCullough, CAH veterinarian.
Veterinarians Urge Caution
In some cases, such as pets with a grain allergy, a grain-free diet is the right choice. But according to CAH veterinarian Dr. McCullough, “for the vast majority of dogs, grains are part of a balanced diet. Far more dogs are allergic to specific proteins than to grain, so very few dogs need to be on a grain-free diet. A veterinarian should be the one to diagnose a grain sensitivity or allergy and work with you on the right nutrition plan"
The veterinary community is beginning to see negative effects of grain-free diets among house pets. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issues several reports warning pet owners of reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils and other legume seeds or potatoes as main ingredients. DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle that leads to an enlarged heart and can result in congestive heart failure. DCM, which can be severe and even fatal, used to mostly impact breeds genetically prone to the disease, such as Great Danes, Newfoundlands and Irish Wolfhounds.
Concerning to the veterinary community is that many recent cases reported to the FDA include breeds not typically at risk for DCM, including Golden and Labrador Retrievers, a Shih Tzu, Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds. In many of these cases, dogs were fed diets that included potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas or lentils. It is not yet know whether the increase in these alternative ingredients is driving the new DCM cases or if it’s the absence of grain, but the FDA is looking into the cause and we have our ears pricked up.
"This is heart-breaking for us, since we know pet owners are only trying to do what’s best for their pets,” says Dr. McCullough. "Many of these grain-free foods are quite expensive but a higher price doesn't guarantee higher quality. Unfortunately some companies are capitalizing are capitalizing on the grain-free trend. Pet food isn't regulated, so they're able to sell grain-free food with little to no research on benefits to or impact on your pet's health."
Your pet’s health and happiness depend on proper nutrition
An undernourished pet is at risk for serious health issues. Dr Lisa Freedman, veterinary nutritionist and a professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University note that “in the last few years I’ve seen more cases of nutritional deficiencies due to people feeding unconventional diets, such as unbalanced home-prepared diets, raw diets, vegetarian diets, and boutique commercial pet foods.”
You can dramatically improve your pet’s quality of life and life expectancy—not to mention, avoid additional veterinary bills—when you help your cat or dog achieve the right nutritional balance. So what can you do?
We love that pet owners are willing to go the extra mile for their pets. You want what’s best for your pet and so do we. We look forward to partnering with you to channel your love and dedication into foods and care that will support a happy and healthy life for your pet!
With a rainy spring behind us, we’re pumped for warm weather! At Concord Animal Hospital, we know that means it’s time to prepare our clients with pet health and safety advice apropos to the coming hazy, hot, and humid season.
What Is the Biggest Warm Weather Danger for Pets?
As the thermometer starts to climb, the biggest danger posed by the warm weather for pets is hyperthermia, or heat stroke.
Activities you might normally do at other times of year--an exuberant session at the dog park with an active pup, taking a longer walk than usual with an older or overweight pet, or leaving your four-legged friend in your car while you do a few quick errands--can put them at serious risk for heat stroke.
What Are the Risks of Heat Stroke for Your Pet?
Damage from heat stroke can range from impacted eyes or GI tract, to brain damage and death.
Dogs considered at higher risk for heat stroke include:
Time is of the essence and mortality rates in dogs with heat stroke are a lot lower when their owners cool them before they arrive at the hospital."
How Can You Help a Pet with Heat Stroke?
With the risk of heat stroke especially in dogs on the rise, Concord Animal Hospital’s Katherine Wilson sat down with Dr. Caleb Murphy, Emergency Clinician at BluePearl Specialty Hospital in Waltham to get his suggestions for first aid steps you can take to save your dog’s life.
BluePearl is a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital and one of the emergency hospitals we suggest to our patients for urgent medical assistance when our office is closed.
Katherine: Can you describe what happens to a pet suffering from heat stroke?
Dr. Murphy: Heat stroke, also called hyperthermia, is a failure to regulate the body’s temperature. A pet suffering from heat stroke is having an inflammatory response which leads to multi-organ dysfunction.
This overheating can be a result of the pet’s own activity or metabolism or heat gained from the environment, such as on a hot day or in a warm car.
Katherine: How does hyperthermia effect a dog?
Dr. Murphy: Dogs lose 70% of their body heat through the skin. But when the air temperature is higher than their body temperature, dogs also lose heat through evaporation from their respiratory tract via panting.
If they are suffering from hyperthermia, your dog will begin panting excessively to maximize heat loss. Internally, blood will increasingly circulate to the skin at the cost of blood flow to the internal organs, which has the potential to cause long term damage.
Katherine: What can a dog owner do if they think their dog is suffering from hyperthermia?
Dr. Murphy: A lot! Time is of the essence and mortality rates in dogs with heat stroke are a lot lower when their owners cool them before they arrive at the hospital.
In one study, mortality rates were 50% in dogs in the total sample, but 100% of dogs that were cooled by their owners before being admitted to the hospital and brought in to a hospital within 90 minutes of exposure survived.*
If you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you need to get to your veterinarian immediately.
Before you go, wet the dog with cold water with a hose or in a bath or sink. I advise against putting wet towels on the dog, because the towels will quickly become warm and prevent the transfer of heat away from the dog’s body. If you have ice packs, place them in your dog’s armpits and around the belly after placing your dog in the car.
Turn the air conditioner on high or roll down the windows and call the vet to let them know you’re coming in while you are on the way.
Stay Safe in the Heat
When the sun is shining, we all want to enjoy the warm weather with our pets! By making seasonal adjustments to our activities, we can help prevent overheating and heat stroke in our pets.
Doing things such as always bringing a water bottle and putting out fresh water for your pet, avoiding walks during the hottest times of day, and leaving your pet at home and not in your car when you go out to shop will go a long way to keeping your pet safe.
And if your dog exhibits any of the symptoms of heat stroke noted above:
Special thanks to Dr. Murphy and BluePearl for contributing to our efforts to keep our patients happy and healthy!
*Heat Stroke in Dogs, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine. 2006.