Common EmergenciesSun, 14 Mar 2021
Throughout the life of your pet, you will have to deal with emergency situations. They might have swallowed socks or had an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Unique to Australia, vet clinics often have to deal with heat stroke and snake bites. Below you will find information about these emergency situations. Thanks to Dr Staaden and Nurse Grace for providing us with this invaluable information.
Heat stroke is a form of non-fever hyperthermia that occurs when heat dissipating mechanisms of the body cannot accommodate excessive external heat. This typically occurs when the body temperature increases over 39 degrees. This condition can lead to multiple organ dysfunctions and is very serious.
Heat stroke has many causes such as excessive environmental heat and humidity, excessive exercise and upper airway disease. It is most commonly seen in long haired dogs and short-nosed, flat-faced dogs, also known as brachycephalic breeds (Pug, French Bulldog etc). It is especially important that in summertime pet owners do not exercise their pets in temperatures above 30C. Please also make sure your pet has access to somewhere shady with cool, fresh water... Or better yet! Reserve them a spot under the aircon.
Symptoms to watch for:
- Excessive drooling
- Increased body temperature
- Congested gums
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle tremors
- Wobbly & uncoordinated
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, please contact your veterinarian immediately and let them know you are on your way. It is important to attempt to lower the body temperature however this must be done carefully and correctly to avoid doing further internal damage. Remove the dog from the hot area immediately. Prior to taking your dog to your veterinarian, lower their temperature by wetting thoroughly with cool water (for very small dogs, use lukewarm water), then increase air movement around your pet with a fan. CAUTION: Using very cold water can actually be counterproductive. Cooling too quickly and especially allowing their body temperature to become too low can cause other life-threatening medical conditions.
If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, you should immediately immobilise your pet and attempt to keep them as still as possible. It is critical that your pet is taken to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Delays in receiving treatment can mean the difference between life and death for your pet.
Where possible, it is helpful to your veterinarian to know which type of snake your pet has come into contact with. Here in WA, the most commonly seen types are Tiger Snakes, Brown Snakes & Dugites. Tiger snakes are much more dangerous and the animal is affected quicker and more severely than when bitten by Dugites. Treatment is also affected by the type of snake as there are various types of antivenin.
Common symptoms are incoordination and worsening paralysis, slower eye reflex, dilated pupils. Other symptoms may include vomiting, excessive salivation, shallow respiration, swollen tongue and/or seizures.