Friday, June 26, 2009

Show Dogs Die Tragic Deaths from Heatstroke

This post is not about Lhasa Apsos but relates to any breed or mixed breed dog. I'll catch you up on the antics of Belle, Mira, and Breaker, as well as my weekend at the class reunion another day.

By now, most of you will have heard about or read about the AKC handler from Missouri who returned late from a dog show and left the dogs overnight in her van, only to find them dead or dying when she checked them in the morning. This tragedy makes all dog lovers sick at heart. If you have not read the story, here is a link.

Seven beautiful show dogs (an Akita, a Dalmation, a Malamute, 3 Golden Retrievers, and a Siberian Husky) died horrific deaths because the handler their owners entrusted them to had poor judgment.

This is not a news flash! Animals should not be left in a vehicle when the weather is hot. Common sense and multiple print and radio/TV public service announcements warn us consistently about the dangers. Yet each year, pets die because their loving owners decided to leave them in the car while they ran into the store for "just a few minutes!"

Anyone who has ever gotten into a closed car on a hot summer day realizes how hot a car can get – and how fast it can happen. Heatstroke can also happen to dogs housed outdoors, dogs accompanying their owners on walks, trail hikes, or to parks and carnivals. Most people are unaware that dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke than people are.

The American Kennel Club offers information regarding heatstroke:
Early Stages:
• Heavy panting
• Rapid breathing
• Excessive drooling
• Bright red gums and tongue
• Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance

Advanced Stages:
• White or blue gums
• Lethargy, unwillingness to move
• Uncontrollable urination or defecation
• Labored, noisy breathing
• Shock

Actions to take if your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke:
Immediately try to cool the dog down by
• Applying rubbing alcohol to the dog's paw pads.
• Applying ice packs to the groin area.
• Hosing down with water.
• Allowing the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.
• Offering Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.

Interested readers may want to read "Heat Stroke and Malignant Hyperthermia in Dogs and Cats" for more information.

Many people think it is no big deal to leave the dog in the car if they roll the window down slightly. The sight is not uncommon. You can drive into any WalMart parking lot and see dogs locked in cars in all kinds of weather.

Many people think it is no big deal to leave the dog in the car because they are just going to "run right into the store and back." After all, what can happen in 10 minutes? Good question. Illness and death if the conditions are right.

If you leave your dog in the car, you should read the results of a small three-day study on outside temperatures versus temperatures inside cars, found at You may decide not to leave your dog in the car the next time you are tempted to do so! Remember, he is at the mercy of the owner he loves and trusts to take care of him. You betray that trust every time you close the car door and leave him inside the car on a hot day.

Understand that a dog's entire body is covered with hair and that the normal body temperature for a dog is 101-102 degrees. Because dogs do not sweat, their temps rise quickly, much faster than a person's temperature rises because we sweat and our sweat helps to cool our bodies. Dogs pant – and their panting adds heat and humidity inside the closed vehicle. Once a dog's temperature exceeds 104 degrees, evidence of heatstroke occurs. Three degrees higher and you have a dog that will probably die unless quick, heroic actions are taken.

With the hot humid summer we are already experiencing in the Midwest, a good thing that can come of the tragic deaths of these seven show dogs is that the publicity and resulting wake up call may prevent other dogs' deaths at the hands of loving but careless owners.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post Joyce, I see it all the time too and it makes me crazy!