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Health and Safety Information
Hyperthermia and Heat Stroke
As summer sizzles in Southern California, we have to be extra vigilant about preventing our dogs from becoming over-heated. Hyperthermia, or abnormally elevated body temperature, occurs when a dog's body temperature reaches 103 degrees F, or higher. Heath stroke, a potentially lethal condition, occurs when dogs body temperature reaches 106 degrees.
- Don't EVER leave your dog in a hot care. Even if it is 74 degrees outside, a car can reach 120 degrees within minutes.
- Keep your dog in a cool place. Make sure your dog has access to shade. Avoid garages, and keep a fan or the air conditioning going inside.
- Dogs that have had hyperthermia before, are at increased risk for it to happen again.
- The best prevention is not to expose your dog to high temps, and to be aware of the signs of hyperthermia and heat stroke.
Signs of Hyperthermia
- Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
- Increased body temperature - above 103° F (39° C)
- Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
- Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heart beats
- Muscle tremors
- Wobbly, incoordinated or drunken gait or movement (ataxia)
- Changes in mental status
Other Serious Consequences
- Stoppage of the heart and breathing (cardiopulmonary arrest)
- Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress (tachypnea)
- Blood-clotting disorder(s)
- Vomiting blood (hematemesis)
- Passage of blood in the bowel movement or stool
- Black, tarry stools
- Small, pinpoint areas of bleeding
- Generalized (systemic) inflammatory response syndrome
- Disease characterized by the breakdown of red-muscle tissue
- Death of liver cells
- Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened
- Cool your dog down by applying cold damp towels to the armpits, groion, ear area.
- Don't put your dog in ice or offer ice. This can excessively lower body temperature and cause shock.
- Offer water, but do not force water, as it can go into the lungs.
- Get your dog to the vet ASAP, and call ahead, letting them know you are on the way.
Click here for more information about hyperthermia.
Wildland Fire Safety
In California wild fires are a fact of life. Even when we are safe from the direct effects of fire, smoke from distant fires still poses a health hazard. Animals with cardiovascular or respiratory disease are especially at risk from smoke and should be closely watched during all periods of poor air quality. The American Veterinary Association provides tips for keeping animals safe from smoke. https://www.avma.org/public/EmergencyCare/Pages/Wildfire-Smoke-and-Animals.aspx
Look for the following signs of possible smoke or dust irritation in animals. If any of your animals are experiencing any of these signs, please consult your veterinarian.
- Coughing or gagging
- Difficulty breathing, including open mouth breathing and increased noise when breathing
- Eye irritation and excessive watering
- Inflammation of throat or mouth
- Nasal discharge
- Asthma-like symptoms
- Increased breathing rate
- Fatigue or weakness
- Disorientation or stumbling
- Reduced appetite and/or thirst
Tips to Protect Pets
- Keep pets indoors as much as possible, and keep your windows shut.
- Birds are particularly susceptible and should not be allowed outside when smoke or particulate matter are present.
- Let dogs and cats outside only for brief bathroom breaks if air quality alerts are in effect.
- Avoid intense outdoor exercise during periods of poor air quality. Exercise pets when dust and smoke has settled.
- Have a pet evacuation kit ready, and include your animals in your disaster preparedness planning.
Tips to Protect Livestock
- Limit exercise when smoke is visible. Don’t require animals to perform activities that cause heavy breathing.
- Provide plenty of fresh water near feeding areas.
- Limit dust exposure by feeding low-dust or dust-free feeds and sprinkling or misting the livestock holding area.
- Plan to give livestock 4 to 6 weeks to recuperate after the air quality returns to normal. Attempting to handle, move, or transport livestock may delay healing and compromise your animals’ performance.
- Have a livestock evacuation plan ready in advance. If you don't have enough trailers to quickly transport all of your animals, contact neighbors, local haulers, farmers, producers, or other transportation providers to establish a network of reliable resources that can provide transportation in the event you need to evacuate your animals.
- Good barn and field maintenance can reduce fire danger for horses and other livestock. Make sure barns and other structures are stable, promptly remove dead trees, clear away brush, and maintain a defensible space around structures.
- For more information go the Cal Fire website at: