Friday, June 29, 2012

psa: dog heat stroke

On Wednesday night Cali came close to fading away.

It was, without a doubt, one of the most frightening things I've ever witnessed.
My mama bear adrenaline was flowing and I flew into action. 
I called the animal hospital, but they were closed for the night.
I googled emergency vets in my area and received no results.
What else do you do in a mad panic?
You call your mom.
And that's exactly what I did.

Through my tears I explained Cali's symptoms:

Vomiting: she vomited 4 times in a period of 10 minutes
Exhaustion: she could hardly move and when she did she would immediately callapse
Heavy, heavy breathing: her chest cavity was thumping like never before
Pounding heart: her little heart was pounding out of control
Shortness of breath: she was gasping and in distress
Very thirsty: everytime I gave her water she devoured the bowl
Listless: so, so weak
Agitated: she kept itching her face uncontrollably and in a really hard, abrasive manner

Maybe she got bit by a debilitating bug?
Maybe she has an allergy?
Maybe she ate something and was poisoned? 

My mom listened to the symptoms I rattled off and thought fast.
She told me to run. Fast. And put a towel in cold water and cover her with it.
At this point Cali had made her way under our kitchen table.
A place she'd never laid before.
I quickly ran into the kitchen, grabbed the closest towel and flooded it with cold water.
I then rushed to my poor, lifeless girl and quickly covered her in this towel.
I pleaded with Cali and refused to let her close her eyes.
My mom remained on the phone, telling me to "sweet talk" Calz.
Sweet talking comes easy when your pup is such a little sweetie.
But it was clear she was still in distress.
I kept pressing the wet towel softly onto her body, slowly wrapping her in it.

Before my very eyes I witnessed something so beautiful.
My girl was coming back to me.
Her heavy breathing was subsiding and her pounding heart was slowing.

My mom asked if I had Gatorade, which I did.
She told me that I should put a little bit in her water bowl, to give her a little sugar.
Cali wasn't interested in drinking anymore, but she would lick it off my fingers.
So this is what we did.

I laid on the kitchen floor with her.
My eyes and her eyes locked together.
She was so worn out.
She was alive.

Cali had heat stroke.

As I sat on the kitchen floor beside her, Cali regained her strength.
She slowly climbed onto my lamp and made her wet self comfortable.
In this moment I realized that this condition was something that more of us need to be educated on. 

Once time had passed and it was evident that she was okay, solely for educating purposes, I grabbed my camera and snapped a couple photos. 

This day was NOT a hot day - low 80's, no humidity and a slight cool breeze. 
It was unseasonable weather and felt more like spring than summer. 
Her and I had been sitting on my front porch before all of this had happened. 
Cali was in the shade, laying on the mat by my front door.
It was 7:00 pm. Not the hottest time of day.

After doing quite a bit of research on dog heat stroke, I've been enlightened.
There are several phases a dog goes through while experiencing heat stroke.
According to my research, Cali was in the final phase.
My heart just skipped a beat typing that sentence.

Dog heat stroke is actually a very common ailment, hard to self diagnose and usually fatal.

From my experience, it comes on like a freight train.
It moved through Cali's tiny body in less that 15 minutes.
Every second counts.
You have no time to drive to the vet.
You must act fast or else...

 Please take the time to read the below information. I've underlined all of Cali's displayed symptoms.

"Every year, thousands of dogs suffer from heat stroke." 

"In many cases, owners are not aware that their dogs are developing this condition until it is too late to reverse the damage. Immediate emergency medical treatment is necessary to prevent multisystemic organ damage, and death. Early recognition of the common signs of heat stroke is critical to saving the dog’s life."

"As a dog’s body temperature starts to rise as a result of these conditions, it cannot release the excess heat naturally produced by metabolism and other bodily functions. This, in turn, leads to the dangerous physical effects of heat stroke which, if not immediately treated, are usually fatal."

"The initial symptoms of heat stroke in dogs are characterized by unanticipated restlessness. They include physical signs such as excessive or fluctuating panting, which may start, stop and then start again. Other physical signs are excessive drooling (hypersalivation), foaming at the mouth, dry tacky gums and labored or difficult breathing (dyspnea). Among common behavioral changes are agitation, whining, barking and other signs of anxiety. As the dog’s core body temperature becomes dangerously elevated (called hyperthermia), the initial signs normally progress to include vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, lack of muscular coordination (ataxia), very red gums and uncontrolled tremors. In the end stages of heat stroke, a dog will become listless, dull, weak and recumbent. It may try to move to cool places but be unable to rise, will have increased difficulty breathing and ultimately will have seizures, collapse, lapse into a coma and die."

Within 20 minutes of her episode ending, Cali was back to her spunky, ridiculously cute self.

You've always be a stickler to the rules.
Especially when it comes to the safety of others.
You would never answer your phone while driving. Never.
But because of your car accident, you were forced to get a new car.
This new car has blue tooth wireless connection.
You were able to answer the phone while driving.
And you had read about dog heat stroke just last week.
Because of all of this, you saved a life.
My babies life.
I'm forever grateful.
Thank the Lord for Dr. Mom!


  1. omg kate! that is such a scary story! i was crying my eyes out as i was reading it! thanks for educating us on this and i'm glad cali is ok!

  2. I have tears in my eyes! Poor little Cali! Thank you for posting this, we are about to leave for the beach with our 4 pound maltipoo and I am seriously going to make him stay in the A/C at all times! So glad she's better:)

  3. That is so scary!! Thank you for sharing it with us. When our dogs were younger we would hose them off after playing in the sun before they came inside to keep them cool. It's not something we've done in a while. Thanks for the reminder so glad you baby is ok!

  4. Bless that sweet baby. Thank you so much for posting this. Since our little Winston is a yorkie too I'm so glad to know about the warning signs. I'm not sure I would have known what to do. Thank goodness for moms, too!

  5. Thank you for posting! I have an 11 month french bulldog, and having her get heatstroke is my biggest fear. So scary!

  6. Oh gosh! So scary! so glad she is okay though!

  7. Thanks! Good to know especially since we're headed to the mountains to camp this weekend! And, we're taking Buddy. I might hose him off periodically just in case.

  8. oh Cali, I am so glad that you are ok! I was seriously holding my breath as I read this ... sooo scary. I'm not sure what I would have done if this had happened to sherman, but I sure hope I would have done just as good as you! you are a good mom!
    it's going to be 100+ here this weekend ... I am so thankful for your research. It's great info for everyone to know.
    Cali ... don't scare us again!

  9. My puppy is my everything so thank you so much for this!

  10. oh my lord!!! i have never heard of that before...SO glad she is ok and go mom for being there at the right time-give that cute baby a big snuggle ;)

  11. Oh my gosh, this is horrible! I'm so glad little Cali is alright. Thank you so much for posting this, I would have never known what to do if my little one did the same thing. It is especially helpful this weekend as it is so hot!

  12. Oh my gosh this made me cry. I am SO glad she is alright. You're a great mama too :)

  13. oh my goodness!! I am so glad Cali is OK!!! poor thing!

  14. omg :( :( so sorry this happened Kate. But awesome that you know now. I can't tell you how much this has me SCARED for my Rocky. He always sits on our air vents to cool off. I am so scared now :( But thanks for sharing so I can keep a close eye on him!

  15. Oh my goodness Kate!!! I just got teary eyed thinking of what could have happened to poor Cali! Despite your panic and being scared- you stayed strong, confident, and did everything you were supposed to! You are one incredible puppy momma!! Thank you for posting this- it is a good reminder to all puppy mommas out there!

  16. I'm so glad cali is okay! Hope this doesn't happen again! I would be so scared if she was my puppy! The whole time I was reading this I kept hoping she was okay. Scary!

  17. OH!! So glad lil' Cali is ok. She is precious. We're on the hunt for our own furbaby right now, so thanks for the information, it'll be good to know considering it's 100+ in KY right now. If it stays nice in your area, I'll be tickled pink for my long weekend in Charlotte in July!

  18. Thanks so much for this! I had no idea :/ Definitely gonna keep a close eye on my baby this weekend.

  19. omg - i cried just thinking about it. if my dogs collapsed and died on me - you'd have to bury me with them. no joke. i am so sorry you had to go through this!

  20. Thank you for posting this. I have a little dog and I do not know what I would do without her!

  21. What a terrible scare! I almost just cried at work reading this. So happy & relieved Cali is OK now.

  22. I'm glad everything is alright! We had something like this happen to us around 2 years ago. We had adopted a dog and had someone pet sit her for us. They left her outfit when it was extremely hot out and she passed away. He came home and she already had passed.

  23. Bless your mom, you and little Cali! My pups give you all a shout out for your courage and quick action!

    God Bless!

  24. Omg poor, sweet Cali!! That's so sad, I'm sure I would've freaked and called my mom as well! I'm so glad you were able to save her!!! And thanks for the warning signs...good to know!

  25. Omg!! Poor little Cali, I'm so glad that she is okay! Thank you so, so much for posting this. I had no idea what the symptoms were or what to do. It's been in the 100s already here every day already and my dogs love laying in the direct sun (it warms their bellys), but I will now watch them much more carefully.

  26. Oh my gosh how scary! Thank god for mommas! Thanks so much for sharing we have our dog outside a lot in the summer!

  27. OMG - thank the lord and your mom that Cali is ok! I would never know what to do in that situation! So glad to see that cute little pup back to her normal self!

  28. so glad shes ok ! thanks for this post!! i always get so nervous with my dog in the heat!

  29. i had tears in my eyes reading this. thank you for sharing, this will help so many people!! so glad little cali girl is ok!

  30. Soo glad Cali is okay!!! You must have been soo scared!! Thank goodness you and your your mom were able to figure out the problem and you were able to treat her!! Thanks for sharing this info!!

  31. I am glad little Miss Cali is ok! No matter how far away or old we get we always need our mom's for their wisdom.

  32. Oh my gosh, Kate! I am so so so sorry that Cali went through this! I am so happy that she is ok!!! I cant imagine how scary that would be to witness. As Rickles gets older, I am always worried about something happening to him when Kenny is gone and the boys aren't in bed yet. He had a stroke and several seizure episodes last summer and we literally thought he was passing away in our living room. It was terrible and I am so happy that he is ok now.

    So happy your mom was there to help you through that. Love to Cali!

  33. Oh My Goodness Kate, that is so scary! I am glad lil Cali is okay and your mom was able to help you! Thank the lord for Moms is right!! I worry about leaving our dog outside while we are at work when it is hot out for this very reason.

    Take Care!
    PS. So sorry we missed you when you were in town! Sounds like you guys had a fun night though!

  34. Glad to hear Cali is ok! I'll def be sure to follow those steps if my two frenchies ever get a heat stroke :) cat

  35. I work at a vet office and this happens all of the time. A lot of the times, we tell our patients to rub a little bit of karo syrup on the dogs gums to get their blood sugar back to normal. Gatorade is also the next best thing! You're a good doggy mom :)

  36. Omg that is so scary! :( I'm so so so glad she's ok! It's good to know what to do in that situation. Now I can keep a close eye on my Toby, specially during the summer.

  37. OH MY GOSH!!! This is so scary! I seriously have goosebumps!! :( I'm so glad Cali's ok!!! And your mom is a genius!!

  38. Oh Cali I'm so glad she's okay.. Thank god your mom knew what to do and now we do too... Just started crying at my desk.. :(

  39. omg!! that is SO scary!! i am so glad she's ok!

  40. oh my gosh, I am so sorry!! It def brought tears to my eyes. Poor Cali! Glad she is ok now!! Thanks for sharing this information!!

  41. I am so so so glad that Cali is alright! Thank God your mom knew what to do and that Cali responded. I have tears in my eyes from reading this. Thank you for the information!

  42. OMG so freaking scary!! Thank heavens for your mom. My little guy has seziures and every time he has one my heart freezes. not fun

  43. This is my first time here, and thank you so much for posting this! As an ex vet tech, you would be surprised how easily dogs can get heat stroke and how few people know the early signs and how to judge their dog's personal tolerance for it! We had a similar scare when we let my mother in law (not dog savvy) watch our dog for a few hours. She asked if she could take him on a "short walk" and we said sure - only to come back and find the short walk was a 5 mile hike in 85 degree weather. She said he'd been so lazy and kept laying down on it! I knew immediately his condition when we walked in and we were able to soak him in a cool tub and rehydrate him --- but I completely sympathize with your scare!!!

    (Also, rant aside, awesome blog)

  44. OMG I had tears in my eyes reading this. I love your dog so much and I don't even know y'all! :) I couldn't imagine loosing my precious yorkie-poo either.. that is just too sad to even think about. You went into mamma bear mode and did everything you could to save your sweet girl. Thanks for sharing the info about heat exhaustion! I had no idea!


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