When a dog is exposed to high temperatures, heat stroke can be a serious danger to your dog's health. An elevation in body temperature, or hyperthermia, typically occurs as a response to a trigger, such as a hot environment or an inflammation in the body.
Heat stroke is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once the signs of heat stroke are detected, there is precious little time before serious damage - or even death - can occur.
Your dog does not sweat through their skin like we do. Rather, they release heat primarily by panting and through their foot pads and nose. If a dog cannot effectively expel heat, their internal body temperature begins to rise. Once the dog's temperature reaches 106°, damage to the body's cellular system and organs may become irreversible.
Unfortunately, too many dogs succumb to heat stroke when it could have been avoided. Listed below are signs of heat stroke. Being able to recognize these signs and symptoms is the key to preventing it from happening to your pet.What are the signs of heat stroke?
What should you do if you suspect your pet has heat stroke?
- Vigorous panting
- Lying down and unwilling (or unable) to get up
- Thick saliva
- Dark red gums
- Tacky or dry mucus membranes (specifically the gums)
- Dizziness or disorientation
- Collapsing and/or loss of consciousness
- High rectal temperature (over 104° requires action & over 106° is a dire emergency)
If you have even the slightest suspicion that your dog is suffering from heat stoke, take immediate action.
- First, move your dog out of the heat and away from the sun right away.
- Begin cooling your dog by placing cool wet rags on the body, especially on the foot pads and around the head.
- Do NOT use ice or very cold water! Extreme cold can cause the blood vessels to constrict, preventing the body's core from cooling and actually causing the internal temperature to further rise. In addition, over-cooling can cause hypothermia, introducing a host of new problems. When the body temperature reaches 103°, stop cooling.
- Offer your dog cool water, but do not force water into your dog's mouth.
- Call or visit your vet right away, even if your dog seems better. Internal damage might not be obvious to the naked eye so an exam is necessary.
- If other people are around, recruit them to help cool your dog while you call the vet.
Some dogs can recover fully from heat stroke if it is caught early enough. Others suffer permanent organ damage and require lifelong treatment. Sadly, many dogs do not survive heat stroke. Prevention is the key to keeping your dog safe in warmer climates and protecting them from the dangers of heat stroke. How do I prevent heat stroke?
Being aware and taking precautions noted below is key to preventing heat stroke.
- NEVER leave your dog alone in the car on a warm day, regardless if the windows are open or not. Even if the weather outside is not extremely hot, the inside of the car acts like an oven. Temperatures can rise to dangerously high levels in a matter of just minutes.
- Avoid vigorous exercise on warm days.
- When outside, keep your dog in shady areas.
- Keep fresh cool water available at all times.
Note certain types of dogs are more sensitive to heat, especially obese dogs and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs. Use extreme caution when these dogs are exposed to heat.
~ Dr. Shae Martin, DVM
Without a doubt, the hardest questions we get asked is, "So when is it time to let go?"
I had initially intended to answer this question with my professional opinion, but I can’t. It's such a personal question and it requires a personal answer particularly because, as a veterinarian, I too am a pet lover and owner.
One of the greatest gifts that veterinarians are granted by law is to prevent suffering. Unlike human medicine where the topic remains controversial, veterinarians can legally euthanize a pet that is in pain, suffering or has a terminal disease. I consider euthanasia an incredible act of kindness that we can offer a pet.
So, when do you really know?
Well, I personally think they tell you - they tell you with their eyes. It's not their hips that no longer support them. It's not their waning appetite. It's the look in their eyes.
Look into your pet's eyes and say, 'are you ready?' My fellow pet lovers, they will tell you.
That shiny gleam when the leash appears is gone. That wagging tail with the sight of the food bowl is gone. That look you know better than anyone else that communicates "I love this world and my life" is no longer there. Look closely. Their eyes will say, “I am ready."
I saw this look in our dog Zed's eyes one morning at 5 AM. Zed was 12 years old, a Labrador-Great Dane mix with the most incredible personality and loving spirit. Our precious boy had cancer. And, we knew he didn't have much longer but we needed him to let us know he was ready.
That morning was one of the saddest days of my life, but I took solace in knowing that letting him go was a gift to him. It was our thank you to him for all the joy that loving him brought into our family's life and Zed gave and got gobs of it.
But, it hurts to come to terms with this most difficult decision that we all, as pet owners, must face. The hurt comes from our hearts as we are losing a friend that makes us smile and laugh; and, that most importantly, makes us feel loved unconditionally. But the decision to let them go is also from our hearts. It is not a selfish decision.
To this day, when I think of Zed I am sad and I am happy.
So when you are struggling with one of the hardest decisions, just look into their eyes.
They will tell you. You will know.
Dr. Shae Martin, DVM
Summer is here!Along with the warmer weather come those pesky fleas.
All pets, whether they are indoors or outdoors, are at risk and will benefit from treatment with a monthly flea prevention product. Even animals that never go outside can become infested. A flea’s small size and impressive mobility make it easy to sneak through floorboards, cracks and screens. Fleas can also hitch a ride into the house on your shoes and clothing!
Pets develop itching and discomfort when infested with fleas that can lead to biting, chewing, scratching, self-mutilation and skin infections or “hot spots." Note that cats, being fastidious groomers, ingest fleas while they clean themselves, so it may be difficult to actually find them on your cat.
A secondary concern regarding ingestion of fleas is it can lead to tapeworms. The larval stage of the worm is carried inside the adult flea. When the flea is ingested, pets become infected with the tapeworms that attach to the lining of the intestine and rob the body of its nutrients. You pet may have no outward symptoms but parts of the tapeworm may be seen as small, white, rice-shaped segments around the rectal opening, in feces or on your pet’s bedding.
Many pets that visit us with “allergies” each summer actually only have a problem with fleas – Flea Allergy Dermatitis (or FAD). Bottom line: all animals should be on monthly flea prevention for their own health as well as the comfort of all family members, human and furry.
We carry several types of flea preventatives - all of which are very safe for your pets as well as safe to use around your children. Most of them need only to be applied or given once a month to be effective, but may be used more often for severe infestations and in cases of flea allergies. Talk to your veterinarian or our staff if you have any questions about which product would be best suited for your pet’s lifestyle.
Dr. Lisa Labrecque, DVM
Veterinarian at our sister site West Maui Animal Clinic
In the month of June, we are offering 20% off flea & tick preventatives - in addition to heartworm medication.Click HERE to get your coupon.Click HERE to learn everything you need to know about Heartworm Disease and how to prevent it.
"My dog just chomped on a toad and now he is salivating and acting weird! What do I do?"
- an infamous emergency call question for Maui veterinarians.
In Hawaii, up to 50 dogs a year die after being poisoned by Bufo Toads. When the dog mouths the toad, it instinctively defends itself by releasing venom from its glands. Often times the dog will bite down on the toad enabling poisonous venom to squirt directly down the dog's throat. Usually the dog owner becomes aware of the issue once the dog exhibits excessive drooling while shaking its head relentlessly.
First aid should be administered right away! Here's what you should do:
~ Dr. Shae Martin, DVM
- Wash out the dog's mouth with a steady stream of water. Note don't point the water down the dog's throat.
- Wipe toxic secretions of the gums and teeth with a cotton towel and rinse again with water.
- Call for veterinary assistance immediately. Monday to Sunday from 8AM to 5PM, call 808.893.2380; and, after these hours, call our 24/7 emergency services team at 808.893.2467.
p.s. Don't let this "innocent" little guy sitting on a bench fool you or your dog!
Our 24/7 Emergency Services
When your pet has a medical emergency and your veterinarian’s office is closed, it can be a stressful situation. At Central Maui Animal Clinic, we always have a doctor and technician on call if your pet is experiencing a life threatening emergency after all Maui Vet Clinics are closed.
How do you know whether it's an emergency?
In an emergency situation, try to take a deep breath, be calm, and analyze the situation. Pets are similar to children, so you can utilize a lot of the same common sense decision making that you would for whether or not to go to the emergency room.
When in doubt, it is always okay to call the vet and talk through the problem. Try to have the following information available before calling: age and approximate weight of your pet, previous or ongoing medications, when the signs started, and the name and strength of any accidental toxin ingestion. What are some common emergency conditions?
Below are some common emergency situations for pets, including some specific to our wonderful island.
What number do I call?
- Difficulty breathing, swallowing, standing, or walking, including prolonged or frequent panting, staggering or an uncoordinated or clumsy gait. Cats will rarely pant due to heat hence a panting cat is almost always concerning.
- Straining or crying in the litter box, especially during urination. Some cats naturally make a big production out of using the box or even make sounds while digging, eliminating or burying. You'll have to determine what's normal for your cat, but if you have any doubts, call us.
- Convulsion, electrocution, or drowning.
- Blunt trauma, including high falls, being hit by a car, or getting caught in doors or machinery, even if there is no apparent serious injury. These kinds of accidents may cause internal bleeding or injuries only a veterinary exam can detect.
- Swelling or bloating of the abdomen, especially if accompanied with retching, pacing, or weakness.
- Vomiting for more then 12-24 hours or if vomiting accompanied with blood, weakness or severe abdominal pain.
- Ingesting a toxin such as anti-freeze, human medication, chocolate, etc. In Hawaii, we have toxic toads that, if eaten or licked, can cause severe foaming and drooling and can even lead to seizures, muscle problems and death. (Blog post on leaping into action if your dog bites or swallows a toad coming soon!)
- Profuse bleeding, including any open wound or bleeding from the nose, mouth, ears or any other body opening.
- Fractures or dislocations. If you suspect a broken bone, don't try to find the break or set it yourself.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Heat stroke.
- Trouble giving birth.
If your pet is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, help is just a phone call away! For urgent care during business hours (Monday to Sunday 8 am to 5 pm), please call 808.893.2380. And, after hours, call 808.893.2467. ~ Dr. Benjamin Benander, DVM
What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition affecting both dogs and cats. It's caused by worms living in the arteries of the lungs and sometimes in the right side of the heart.
The disease starts with an adult female heartworm releasing baby worms called microfilariae into an animal's bloodstream. As can be see in the Heartworm Life Cycle image by the American Heartworm Society
, when a mosquito bites that animal, it becomes infected with microfilariae.
After two weeks in the mosquito, the microfilariae has developed and can be passed on to other animals when mosquitos bite them. It then takes about 6 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms. In dogs, the worms may live for up to 7 years.
An interesting fact is that the microfilariae cannot mature into adult heartworms without first passing through a mosquito (so they need that dreaded little bug). In addition, they really do look like little angel hair pasta pieces.
What are the symptoms of heartworm disease?
For both dogs and cats, symptoms of heartworm disease may not be recognized initially as it can take months for the heartworms to develop. Dogs eventually show signs, including a mild, persistent cough, fatigue, reduced appetite and weight loss. Cats show many nonspecific symptoms making the disease difficult to diagnose. Such symptoms include vomiting, gagging, difficulty or rapid breathing, lethargy and weight loss.
How do I prevent heartworm disease in my pets?
There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection in both dogs and cats, including daily and monthly tablets and chewables, monthly topicals and a six-month injectable product available only for dogs. These medications interrupt heartworm development before adult worms reach the lungs and cause disease; in other words, the worm never gets to grow-up.
All of these methods are extremely effective and, when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be prevented. And, as we all know, prevention is best.
~ Dr. Shae Martin, DVM
At some point, we all go through the experience of realizing our puppy or kitten has grown up and is entering his or her senior years. It can be tough to see them slow down and lose some of that energy they seemed to retain for so many years.
As our companion friends age, they become prone to more medical problems, much like their human counterparts. It becomes really important during these senior years to pay more attention to changes that may clue us in to signs of illness. Some illnesses are abrupt in onset and hence very obvious. Others are slow to set in and may not have obvious signs for an owner to pick up on. It is because of these types of illness that it is very important to bring your senior pet in annually for a full physical exam and diagnostic blood screening.
Screening tests have many advantages for your companion pet. It can allow early intervention in cases of kidney disease, a common ailment in aging pets. By detecting early stage kidney disease, the appropriate dietary modifications can be recommended for your pet that have been demonstrated to decrease episodes of illness and increase your pet's life expectancy. Too often, we see pets in a crisis from kidney failure when the disease process has gone on for too long. This is heartbreaking for both the the veterinary staff and the owner.
There are many other illnesses that can be detected and treated through diagnostic blood screening. Before an owner is aware there is even a problem, senior cats can develop hyperthyroidism, a disease that cause damage to the heart, liver or kidneys. Senior dogs can also develop hypothyroidism which can lead to chronic skin disease and poor quality of life.
You may be asking yourself, “At what age is my pet considered a senior?" The American Animal Hospital Association
defines senior dogs as over 7 to 8 years of age and senior cats as over 10 to 14 years of age. Use these age ranges as general guideline to help you determine when your pet should start having senior diagnostic blood screening.
If you have any questions about any of your pets, please do feel free to call our team at Central Maui Animal Clinic or email
- Dr. Michael King, DVM
What's better than ONE special deal in April? TWO, of course!
(See our monthly specials below.)
In the past few years, vaccine technology has improved and for many dogs a yearly vaccine is no longer required, leaving many dog owners wondering about the importance of the yearly check-up which in the past included important vaccinations.
With this said, I thought I would share with our dog loving clients why the annual canine check up is still so important as it really is the key to the long-lived healthy pooches.
The most important part of canine annual exam is checking the canine body for conditions that clients may not notice like ear infections, dental disease and heart murmurs. If heart worm prevention has not been given (a must on Maui) then a blood test should be performed each year to check for this deadly parasite. Other issues such as obesity, flea-tick trouble or behavioral problems can be addressed. And, indeed, this our job - to be thorough with the examination, listen to your concerns and then customize the annual exam to the particular needs of your pooch. And best of all, it is no longer just a needle stick for Fido.
Dr. Shae Martin, DVM
Hear from our staff what Central Maui Animal Clinic means to them.
(Then let us know what CMAC means to YOU by clicking HERE