HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — As the summer heat blazes on, we’ve all figured out how to best keep ourselves cool and hydrated. But, what about our pets?
Murphy, a local black Labrador retriever, loves nothing more than to spend the day chasing tennis balls.
One hot summer day, however—playtime proved too much for him.
“We had taken Murphy to the park, to play tennis ball just like we’re doing now. It was hot, it was humid, and we could tell he was starting to get tired. So we walked him home, about a quarter-mile, and he collapsed in our driveway,” explains Murphy’s owner, Bill Bartlett.
The frightening situation quickly took a turn for the worse.
“[I] ran water over him, called the vet…took him to the vet the next morning, [and] she called me two hours later and said he’s in full kidney failure, caused by heatstroke. And it happened just like that,” Bartlett says.
After four straight days of IV fluids in the hospital, Murphy’s terrifying situation began to look up.
Unfortunately, his story is not an uncommon one.
“So heatstroke is a huge issue, especially in the summer; especially down here, it’s hot. Especially in these little smushy-faced guys—bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, things like that—but it can happen to any one of them, labs, goldens, all of them,” says Jasmine Peterman, veterinary technician at Ashland Animal Clinic.
So what can owners do to fend off heat exhaustion and even heat stroke, when all your furry friend wants to do is keep playing?
“He can’t tell you when he’s tired, cause his adrenaline is just pumping through himself. And so he’s doing what he’s born to do, he can’t tell ya ‘hey I’m getting too hot I gotta stop,'” Bartlett says.
It’s up to individual owners to stay vigilant. Luckily, vets say there are a few telltale signs to watch out for when you’re out on a hot day with your pet.
“The things to look out for are excessive panting, salivating a lot, drooling, and higher temp,” Peterman says.
In order to determine temperature, Peterman says owners should use a rectal thermometer on their pet. A normal temperature is 102.5 degrees.
Peterman says there are a few things you can do if your dog is exhibiting these symptoms: “You want put alcohol on the paw pads. Don’t dip them directly in the tub or anything like that, but take a lukewarm washcloth or water to the belly will cool them down,”
Also, make sure there is cool water available, but don’t force it, and always follow up with your veterinarian.
“This is the perfect example of the perfect dog that should never had this happen, boy did I feel guilty. It was my fault, I just didn’t know, I didn’t know this could happen so quickly and so easily,” Bartlett says.
Murphy’s on the mend and chasing tennis balls again—but not without a cool pool of water nearby.
If you suspect your animal is suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, call your veterinarian immediately, as serious lasting effects like organ failure can happen as much as a few days after the event.