Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Heat Stroke in Pets

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Heat stroke is the common term for hyperthermia, or elevated body temperature. In pets, a body temperature higher than 103°F (39.4°C) is considered hyperthermic. Elevated body temperature becomes life-threatening when it reaches 109°F (42.7°C).  In dogs, body temperature is regulated primarily by panting. Dogs have only a small number of sweat glands in their footpads, so they cannot perspire to cool off.

The most common cause of heat stroke in cats and dogs is leaving a pet in a car without adequate ventilation. Never leave any animal in a parked vehicle in warm weather, no matter how briefly. The inside temperature can skyrocket to a dangerous level in a few short minutes, even with the windows cracked open. The pet’s temperature can rise rapidly and lead to collapse, often within minutes.

Heat stroke in pets can also result from leaving a pet in a yard on a hot day without access to shade or water, and excessive or vigorous exercise when it is hot. Too much excitement or exercise can put a dog at risk even when the temperature or humidity does not seem extreme. Flat-faced dogs (Pugs, Boxers, and Bulldogs) are at greater risk because of their narrow, short airways. Muzzled dogs may not be able to pant freely.

Any infection that causes a fever can lead to hyperthermia. Seizures or severe muscle spasms can also increase body temperature.

Heat stroke in a cat or dog is an emergency that required safe, controlled reduction of body temperature. Cool water or cold cloths may be placed on the head, stomach, underarms and feet. Rubbing alcohol may be applied to the footpads. Ice may be placed around the mouth and anus. The dog’s rectal temperature should be monitored, and treatment stopped when the rectal temperature decreases to 103°F (39.4°C).

Most otherwise healthy pets can recover from heat stroke if their body temperature did not become extremely high. The prognosis depends on how high the pet’s temperature climbed, how long it lasted, and the physical condition of the pet before the heat exposure.


Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhD
and Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS
  All content on WebVet is reviewed annually by Vets to guarantee its timeliness and accuracy.

Allergies and Your Pet

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Sometimes a severe reaction occurs between a substance and the immune system of the body.  This is called an “ALLERGIC REACTION,” and may be caused by dust, weeds, molds, grass, foods, fleas., as well as many other materials.

In humans, the reaction that occurs usually affects the respiratory system, causing breathing problems such as asthma.  A different type of chemical reaction usually occurs in the body of the dog and cat. The major sign that occurs as a result of this particular type of allergic reaction is usually itching. The itching causes the pet to chew and scratch; which, in turn causes more damage to the skin. The skin often becomes infected or thickened from prolonged chewing and scratching. 

Some allergic reactions occur as soon as exposure occurs, but most reactions are delayed; and don’t become evident for 3-7 days after the exposure. This can make determination of the causative agent very difficult. Often a pet that develops an allergy will develop other  allergies later in life, which makes control even more frustrating at times.

An allergy never develops the first time exposure occurs. It takes time for the body to develop an allergy to a particular substance.  Remember people and pets are similiar in that they become allergic to what they are exposed to the MOST!!  So your pet is most likely to become allergy to a substance it is in contact with on a daily basis! This is the reason many pets do not develop an allergy until the later years of life.

The most common allergy seen in the dog and cat is the result of flea bites. The pet becomes allergic to the PROTEIN in the SALIVA of the flea. The reaction can occur after only one flea bite!!  Many times there will be no fleas on the pet when it is examined, which causes the owner to question the diagnosis. Remember  MOST ALLERGIC REACTIONS OCCUR 3-7 DAYS AFTER THE EXPOSURE TO THE ALLERGENIC SUBSTANCE.

Allergies are often NOT PREVENTABLE; but CONTROL with medications is effective,  as long as the owner will follow our instructions and continue treatment. You must be patient and realize that the condition probably will recur throughout the pet’s life, if and when exposure occurs.

The secret is to get proper medical attention as soon as signs of allergy are seen.  Prompt treatment will prevent the skin lesions from becoming more severe.

Initial recommendations are to control flea infestation.  Fighting fleas is a constant war because:

• The flea’s life cycle can involve more than one year’s time.
• Most of the life cycle of the flea occurs off the pet.
• Premises may be contaminated with fleas from other animals.

Fleas must be kept off the pet to control the allergic reaction. There are many topical flea treatments available at our hospital that will help control fleas. Treatment of the house and yard is sometimes still necessary in areas highly infested with fleas.

Once flea allergy is eliminated or controlled, then we can move on to other aspects of the problem  such as food allergy, contact allergy, and inhaled allergies. We find that if the flea allergy can be controlled, it then becomes much easier to control the other problems in most cases. We highly recommend “allergy testing” or referral to a dermatologist in dogs with recurrent allergies that are difficult to control with oral medications.


Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

The anal sacs (glands) lie beneath the skin, on each side of the rectal opening. The anal sacs are lined with glands that produce a secretion with a strong odor. This is the same gland as the “scent gland” of the skunk.  The secretion is normally discharged from the rectum with the stools or when the rectal muscle tightens–such as when your pet is frightened.  If the canal emptying the gland does not close completely, your pet may leave foul-smelling fluid where they have been.

 Types of anal sac disease include:


  Abnormal secretions are thick and unable to escape through the duct.  This may result from a change in diet, or a change in the nature of the secretions. The sacs become swollen and painful.


Bacteria Infection produces a thin, foul-smelling discharge. Licking of these glands may cause other body infections, such as tonsillitis and skin infections.


 If left untreated, infections may abscess resulting in a painful swelling filled with pus that cannot escape. Often the gland will burst from the pressure as the infectious discharge accumulates. Many pets are presented to us with a “hole” beside the rectum, which is a result of a bursting abscess.

 Signs of Anal Sac Disease include:

  • “Scooting” or dragging the rear-end on the floor or ground. A discharge may be seen on the floor.
  • Jerking around quickly to lick the tail area or excessive licking of the rectal area.
  • Reluctance to lift the tail or allow you to touch the rear-end.
  • Constipation.
  • Bloody drainage around the rectal area.

 Treatment of Anal Sac Disease MAY include:

 Rectal palpation to empty the sacs of the secretions.

 Lancing and/or debriding the infected gland.

 Systemic antibiotics.

 Anti-inflammatory medications.

 Surgical removal of the anal sacs will prevent any future problem and should be considered in recurrent cases. It is recommended for consideration any time a pet has 3 episodes of anal gland problems within a one-year period.