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longgone's avatar

Did I help these dogs, or hurt them?

Asked by longgone (13343points) August 17th, 2017

On a ferry yesterday, I came across a car full of Border Collies – two to a crate (with the crates not big enough for even one), all overheated, three unresponsive and barely breathing. It seems that they were being transported illegally.

Together with a group of other people I spent two hours fanning these dogs, massaging them, and dousing them with water. At last, they got a police escort to the vet’s.

At some point, I cradled one young girl as she curled up and noticed that she’d started shivering. After reading about it, I’m guessing that she might have gone into hypovolemic shock at that time. We got her and one of the other two dogs to a warmer spot and dried them off a little, only keeping their heads wet. They became more attentive in time, and were able to at least walk a few steps by the time they were driven off.

During my research, I learned that some sources say you can’t have too much water in treating heatstroke. Others caution that a quick drop in temperature can also be dangerous.

Does anyone know for sure? Any vets? I’m really tempted to call the vet and see how those guys are doing.

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16 Answers

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

This a huge problem in the warmer places like Florida. People lock their kids and pets in cars parked in lots while they go shopping. 90F outside temps can rise to the 120sF inside a closed car left in the sun. It can also result in the permanent brain damage or death of children and pets. So, this should be taken very seriously.

The next time you’re on a ferry and you see something like this, contact the officer on deck and report the situation immediately. If you can’t find an officer, then grab a deckhand and make sure they report it to their officer.

Southerners like myself know about these things. I’m not sure if people in cooler climates are aware of the seriousness of this yet. But it is always serious when the ambient temps are over 85F and there is no water or fresh air available to the victims.

You saw suffering and you did something about it. Bravo. You comforted the suffering.

Coloma's avatar

Bravo to you. You did the best you could under the circumstances and you should be proud that you did, indeed, save these dogs lives. I would call the vet to get an update for sure and ask them your questions in case you come across something like this again. I hope the dogs will not be returned to the negligent POS person that did this to them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I am certain you helped and thank you so much.

Muad_Dib's avatar

I am not a doctor (or a vet) but I believe the “quick drop in temperature” they’re referring to would be, say, a bath in ice water, not a cool compress or a rub-down with a bottle of Aquafina.

Thank you for helping these sweet doggos.

Coloma's avatar

@Muad_Dib Good point, and welcome to the pod. :-) Yes, submerging anything in ice water regardless of it’s condition but especially if it is super overheated is going to shock it’s system severely. Maybe resulting in cardiac issues.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I only know human medicine, but not animal medicine. The two can differ greatly. I’ve experienced hyperthermia a couple times myself and treated others that have succumbed heat stroke. Hyperthermia is one of the risks of sailing, working out on a deck while exposed to the hot sun. The guys I watch closely are the ones who have partied heavily the night before, or are known to be on certain prescription meds.

Initial Stage:
Excessive sweating.
They appear to be excessively red in the face.
Mild confusion. You will first notice this in their speech and hesitant movement. They aren’t thinking straight.
Lack of balance and coordination.
Muscle cramps.
Mild to severe tremors due to lack of electrolytes.
Tachycardia: a regular heart rhythm over 120 bpm.
Slight nausea: difficulty holding down water, but they must try. Short of an IV, this is the only way to get water into them.

Since dogs sweat primarily from their tongues, there should be excessive saliva. If the dog looks ratty and damp, that is very extreme. Normal heart rate for small dogs is anywhere between 60 and 140bpm. Normal for big dogs is 60 to 100bpm.

Body temp of about 102–3F. If these guys don’t get into the shade quick, drink room temp water, dowse themselves with water, or wrap themselves in a wet sheet, and lie down, it can quickly progress to symptoms of heat stroke. Placing ice packs where the arteries are close to the surface such as under their arms, under their crotch and at their neck will quickly reduce their body temps. O2 is nice, if it is available. Have someone monitor the victim closely, especially their pulse and skin color.

The victim should be OK in about a half hour, but they are done for the day. At this point, it is all about hydration, hydration, hydration. Foods with magnesium, potassium and calcium are recommended to replace important electrolytes that were lost during excessive sweating. A banana or two is good. Sleep. I have no idea what food you would offer a dog.

Counterintuitively, ice water is not recommended because as it passes down the throat and along the aorta and past the struggling, overheated heart, the heart can be thrown into shock resulting in sudden cardiac arrest.

Signs and symptoms of advanced hyperthermia:

Nausea and vomiting.

The sweating stops. Body temp of 104+. They become dry, cold, very pale and are in and out of consciousness. The victim is now in real danger as their parasympathetic system has gone haywire. It has reached the tipping point.

Their body temp is so much higher than the air temp around them that the parasympathetic system is now reacting as though they are in cold weather and those reactions to cold are now kicking in, which includes shivering, muscle rigidity and other involuntary actions that raise the body temp further.

Extreme confusion when conscious.
Muscle rigidity.
Tremors and shivering.
Agonal breathing.

Irregular Tachycardia: An irregular heart rate of about 120 bpm or more with *hypo*tension. The pulse is weak and thready The blood pressure drops because the heart is beating so fast and irregularly—inefficiently—that there is very little real cardiac output. This is a sign that the person is now in risk of stroking due to clots forming at sharper curves in the arterial system throughout the body, especially the brain, lungs and coronary arteries.. If this continues, you will lose them. It is also possible that they have lost so much body fluids that their blood volume is too low to handle this emergency. This is hypovolemia due to prolonged hyperthermia.

Then, Bradycardia. The heart rate slows down significantly below 40 bpm. You are losing them.

First aid while waiting for the EMTs: This is where first aid people differ. Some say the person needs to be wrapped in a dry blanket and removed to a dark, cool place in a reclining position with their head at the same level of their heart and turned to the side to prevent aspiration of vomit, The other school of thought is that the body temp must be lowered as quickly as possible without causing a cardiac event. So, I will do all the above, but still wrap them in a wet sheet regardless and monitor their vitals closely—but I have a stethoscope and BP cuff onboard and know how to use them—it can be quite some time before the coast guard helicopter gets to my position. 02 is very helpful to help them remain conscious and deliver badly needed O2 to the heart muscle. If I don’t have an 02 tank available, I put them on regular air via a scuba outfit. The delivery is much better. If they stop breathing altogether, CPR breathing is recommended, or better yet, employment of an ambu-bag. Less work and leaves you the ability to simultaneously monitor vitals.

Then, when conscious, they should be offered room temp water when conscious. Be prepared for projectile vomiting. But don’t give up. Cool, wet rags to arteries after the shivering stops and the BP rises and the HR is regular. When condition improves, go with the ice packs. O2 is very helpful.

Sorry about the length. I’m trying to cover all bases.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I think you should call the vet, only to satisfy yourself. I believe you did the best that could have been done with the limited resources available.
If any of those dogs perished, it was absolutely not your fault, but at least they knew your kindness first.
I am so sorry you had to be witness to something so upsetting. I am glad you did take action.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^Right. You had limited resources. You aren’t trained to deal with this. You did a good job.

MrGrimm888's avatar

If the dogs were “turned over” to the vet, they are legally the vet’s property. They will not be able to tell you about their medical history. If they were in the situation you mentioned that may be the case.

The only thing I KNOW is that they are in a far better situation than they were… Good effort.

The crow had some great tips. For dogs, I would also add that rubbing alcohol can be applied to their foot pads and ears. As it evaporates, it will remove body heat. As dog’s cannot sweat.
In a worse case, a cool/not cold water enema will help lower core body temp. And yes, bringing them down too fast is dangerous. Too much water is also bad . The dog will likely drink too much, inducing vomiting, and further lowering hydration status. Or worse ,it could suffer a GDV, or commonly referred to as “bloat.”

If a pet is thought to be potentially suffering from overheating, it should be taken to the nearest veterinarian. Seconds count…

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think I have my dog enema kit in my trunk somewhere….I take it with me everywhere I go.

So, what did the vet say?

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Any type of tubing would work. It’s not a sterile procedure. Just saying…

Dutchess_III's avatar

Uh huh. You also have to find someway to force it in. It won’t just fall in.

rojo's avatar

Things you don’t hear every day:

“I think I have my dog enema kit in my trunk somewhere”

Patty_Melt's avatar

Any word from vet?

longgone's avatar

Thanks, everybody. I haven’t reached the vet yet, but will try again tomorrow.

We did immediately report to the crew. They were very friendly, but seemed to be at a loss for what to do. It took way too long for the police to arrive, and there were issues with security since we were traveling between two nations.

Yes, it was hard to see those dogs. Some of them had bite wounds, probably due to fighting for space in their cramped conditions. They were malnourished too, and very fearful. I didn’t think I’d leave that port without a dog having died in my arms, but I’m so glad I did. I hope they’re safe.

The one good thing to come out of this is that I’ve learned a ton about how to cool dogs (or people) down safely. I’ve never had to deal with this before. I’ve traveled in warmer climates with dogs plenty of times, but I’ve always been paranoid about heatstroke. Our own dogs – on that same ferry – were sound asleep. We make sure their heads are wet and they have cooling blankets and frozen toys to chew on. I’ve felt a little silly at times, but I’m back in the land of paranoia now, and that’s where I’ll be staying.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You did a wonderful thing. You not only helped those dogs you saved their lives. You changed their lives.

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