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Heat Stroke in Dogs

The Truth About Heat Stroke

By Dr. Nancy Turner, on behalf of Vickery Place Animal HospitalHighland Park Animal Hospital and the Canine Country Club and Wellness Center

In the interest of full disclosure, this is my second attempt at this post. When I sent my original draft to colleagues for review, they thought my wording was a little too strong and could use some toning down.  For those of you that know me, this should be no surprise! I tend to be passionate about certain topics, and heat stroke is one of those issues that really gets me fired-up (please excuse the pun). 


Having treated numerous heat stroke emergencies over the years, I can say that there are few things more upsetting than having a client lose a pet in this way. Make no mistake; your pet can die of heat stroke!


We all know what can cause heat strokeleaving your pet in a car on a humid or hot day, exercising your dog in hot or humid weather, having a breed of dog that is at higher risk of heat stroke, or having an older dog that cannot compensate as well in the heat.


We all know why dogs get heat stroke: they have fur coats, they don't sweat, and they only dissipate heat by panting (and a minuscule amount through their pads).


Some of us even know what happens to a dog during a heat stroke event:

"If an unduly hot environment prevents the normal cooling process, blood is diverted away from important organs such as the brain, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, and liver. When these organs do not receive enough blood, they begin to fail."


And this failure can happen in minutes:

"In a study of 54 dogs with heatstroke, 50 percent of the dogs died. However, 100 percent of the dogs that were given first aid at home and arrived at the veterinary hospital within 90 minutes of being found survived."


You read that correctly: 50% of dogs died! But if treatment was started within 90 minutes there is a great chance of survival. That is not very long! Recognizing your pet has heat stroke and seeking medical attention as quickly as possible can truly save your pet's life.


So if we know what causes heat stroke, why dogs are prone to it, and what happens physically to the dog during a heat stroke episode, why do dogs die every year from heat stroke?


Because people think "my dog can handle the heat", they think "my dog will stop before she gets overheated", they think "it won't happen to my dog", and quite frankly, sometimes, we just aren't paying attention.


Take it from a doctor that has treated too many of these sad, preventable cases: your dog IS hot, they often DON'T stop until it's too late, and it CAN happen to your dog.


So, I apologize if this blog is a little too blunt, but I am begging you! Protect your pet this summer. Be an advocate for them. Be smart in the weather and seek medical attention if you are even slightly concerned that your pet is overheated. It WILL save your dog's life.

Bathing can help decrease allergies

How to Prevent Allergies in Your Pet!

I love spring. Flowers blooming, baseball starting, sun shining, and everything turning green really helps me get rid of the winter blues. However, the other thing that spring brings with it is allergies. Did you know that the grass, pollen, dust, and mold that can cause your eyes to tear up and nose to run can also affect your pet? Humans and animals can have very similar allergic triggers, but it is how the dog and cat respond to these triggers that can be very different. Some dogs and cats will exhibit runny eyes and nose, but most of them will become excessively itchy if they are having an allergy issue.


Is your dog or cat keeping you up at night with his itching, licking and chewing? Does he get "hot spots" or ear infections every spring? He may have an allergy!! Allergies can be frustrating because they cannot technically be cured. However, we do often successfully manage them. There are many great articles that talk about the signs and causes of pet allergies, but I wanted to focus on some things that you can do at home to help prevent those hot spots and ear infections before they start. Again, these are recommendations for PREVENTING ALLERGIC ISSUES. If your pet is already itching to the point of annoying you, call us for an appointment!


First and foremost, use veterinary approved, species specific flea prevention. Flea bites are one of the most common allergies in the dog and cat. We call this reaction flea allergy dermatitis, and it can make your cat or dog miserable.  For flea control and prevention to be effective EVERY animal in the house must be on an appropriate preventative, even if they only rarely go outside. Fleas can be very difficult to find on cats since they are so great at grooming, but if you cat is itching, losing fur or developing scabs it is time to get them in for a consultation. It is very common for dogs and cats with flea allergy dermatitis to have significant secondary skin infections requiring treatment prior to the skin healing and returning to normal. Talk to your vet today about which flea products are safe for your pet and check out one of our earlier blogs for more information on parasite control.


Bathing your pet is another huge component to preventing allergic issues. Now, before I hear complaints about having to bathe your cat, hear me out. Any type of rinsing, feet washing or wiping down of the skin, coat, ears and feet is helpful if your pet has allergies. For itchy dogs, I often recommend bathing and cleaning ears at least once a week and using hypoallergenic baby wipes on the feet and belly in between bathing. For cats, the hypoallergenic baby wipes are great for regular fur wipe downs. Anything you can do to decrease the amount of time the allergen (grass, pollen, dust, mold) spends on the skin or coat is great. We carry some awesome products to help keep the skin happy and healthy! But remember, they don't help your pet sitting on the shelf!


Let's also talk about your pet's diet. Nutrition plays a critical role in the health of skin and coat. The healthier the skin, the less prone to infection and irritation it will be. We may recommend fish oils for your pet. Fish oils have anti-inflammatory effects and are great for strengthening the skin's natural defenses against inflammation (aka allergies) and infection.  


There are many medications and products that can help your itchy pet. The most important thing is to be proactive about your pet's skin. Do not wait until hair loss, redness or scabs appear to seek help. We can avoid a lot of complications of allergies by treating them early and with multiple approaches. Please call us today if you think your pet is suffering from the arrival of spring. Don't let allergies ruin this wonderful time of year for you or your pet!

Toby King

Best Local Places to Enjoy the Amazing Weather with Your Pup!

Spring is here! Thank goodness! To make sure everyone (and every dog) can make the most of this amazing weather, I asked one of my great friends and her Jack Russell Terrier, Toby, to review some local patios and dog parks. Here are some of their favorite dog-friendly places to hang out, enjoy the scenery and maybe have a beverage!


Reviews By Alana King


Company Café

Located off the Katy trail, Company Cafe is great every day, but especially on the weekends. For the diet conscious, menu items include organic or even gluten-free brunch options. It is a kid-friendly place with a lively, energetic atmosphere. Also, watching the joggers as you sip on your mimosa is pretty entertaining! Even though there is a large outdoor patio you may want to get there before noon on weekends to avoid a longer wait.


Meadows Foundation Dog Park (aka Swiss Avenue Dog Park)

This is the cleanest and best-kept dog park I've been to in Dallas. I feel like I can take Toby here and he's not covered in mud on the car ride home. The park never seems crowded or stressful, but there are plenty of dogs for Toby to play with. The white picket fence is a nice touch, too, but be careful if your dog is an escape artist!


The Lot

This is a very kid and dog-friendly gastropub in Lakewood. There are basketball hoops, a huge man-made sandbox for the kids and a fenced-in dog park. You can enjoy a frozen margarita while taking in some live music, all while the kids and dogs are entertained.


Mutts Cantina

Spend happy hour with your best friend at this Uptown beer garden and restaurant. Owned by the same people as the next door Rustic, hot dogs and burgers are served with names like "Bird Dog" and "Turkey Mutt." They even have bite-sized beef franks and vanilla custard with peanut butter on the menu for your pup! (Check with your vet before you give any extra treats!) They have happy hour specials on a selected beer or beverage each day.  There are separate small and large dog areas where you can pay $5 for a day pass, $20 for a one-time month pass, or $10 per month as a recurring payment for unlimited use.


We hope this gives you some ideas on how to enjoy the amazing weather with ALL your friends! What about you? Where are your favorite dog-friendly places in Dallas? Check out our other blog posts at!

Heartworm Awareness

Busting Heartworm Myths

While I do not watch the show consistently, I have often found myself sucked into an episode of MythBusters on the Discovery Channel, hanging on every experiment, hypothesis and outcome as if it were the absolute final authority on whatever topic was being "busted".  Almost every day I am asked to de-bunk animal related myths, and while many of these common "myths" are harmless, some can be downright dangerous to your pet. The myths surrounding heartworm disease are ones I consider to have a great potential for harm, mainly because of the serious effects that heartworms can have on dogs and cats. That is why I am "busting" the three most common heartworm myths in this week's blog.


Myth #1: My pet spends the majority of his time indoors so he doesn't need heartworm prevention.

False. While the outdoor dog or cat is more likely to be bitten by infected mosquitoes, mosquitoes do come inside looking for a meal and will feed on cats and dogs. Multiple scientific studies have found a significant number of heartworm infections in cats living exclusively indoor. It only takes one mosquito bite to inject the heartworm larva into your pet. I know that I have been bitten by a mosquito while I was inside - surely my dogs and cats have as well!


Myth #2: Mosquitos are only active in the spring and summer, so I don't have to give heartworm prevention year-round.

False. My friends, this is Texas, and if this winter was any indication, you never know what is going to happen. What is that old saying? "Don't like the weather in Texas? Wait 5 minutes!" Some are under the impression that a hard freeze or even multiple days of freezing weather will kill mosquitos. It may kill the adult mosquitos, but the eggs are pretty sturdy little buggers and can lay dormant for up to two years!  They are just waiting for that hint of moisture or slightly warmer day to hatch and start the process of becoming those pesky flying adults. Also, mosquitos are smart and will try to migrate into a warmer spot (aka. inside) when the weather changes to continue feeding. All in all, there is no way to predict where or when those blood-suckers will show up, and that is why we recommend prevention year-round.


Myth #3: Cats don't get heartworm disease.

False, sort of.  It is true that cats do not generally get "heartworm disease" like their canine counterparts. However, this does not mean that they are not affected by the parasite. Cats seem to be more resistant to adult stages of heartworm infection than dogs, but the juvenile stages can cause a significant amount of damage on their own. North Texas has one of the highest incidents of canine heartworm infection in the country, so it is something that we as veterinarians think about when a cat is ill. Signs of heartworm infection in cats include coughing, breathing difficulties, chronic vomiting, lethargy and sudden death, and there is currently no treatment for heartworms once a cat is infected. That is why we strongly recommend year-round heartworm prevention in all of our feline patients.


I really hope this myth busting helped explain some common misconceptions about heartworm disease and prevention. Don't let your pet become one of the many North Texas animals that falls victim to heartworms! Give us a call today to discuss the heartworm prevention option that is best for your dog or cat! Is your pet already on prevention? Great!! Make sure to give it EVERY month ALL year!!

No Fleas!

Top 5 Reasons To Use Comprehensive Parasite Protection

By Dr. Nancy Turner on behalf of Highland Park Animal Hospital

Spring is just around the corner, and not only is it my favorite time of the year, it is also a bug's favorite time of the year. With the warmer temperatures, everyone is outside more often and those creepy crawlies are much more active! Protect your pet (and the humans in your household) with a comprehensive parasite protection plan! Here are the top 5 reasons why protecting your pet should be at the top of your "Spring is Here" Check List.

1) Fleas and ticks are gross.
Yes, this is probably an understatement. Not only are fleas and ticks just really ugly to look at, they also carry some significant diseases. Cat Scratch Fever and Plague need fleas to spread the disease. Ticks carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and other harmful diseases. In addition to disease risk, flea allergy dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin caused by a reaction to flea saliva, is the most common skin disease in pets. One flea bite can often cause a severe allergic reaction causing lots of scratching, inflamed skin and often a secondary skin infection.  All of this can make your pet very uncomfortable and lead to an otherwise avoidable trip to our office.  By protecting your pet against these gross guys, you are also protecting your house and your family. 


2) Heartworms are real and very dangerous.
I once had a client tell me that they "didn't believe in heartworms." I was shocked. The word "believe" means "having faith in the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right" (I got that from It suggests that some element of faith must be used to reach a conclusion. I have seen a heartworm; I have seen their larvae. I know that they exist. North Texas has one of the highest concentrations of heartworm disease in the country. Heartworms are spread by mosquitos and affect both dogs and cats. They cause significant damage to the heart and lungs and can cause death. The treatment for heartworm disease is very expensive and difficult in dogs, and there is no treatment available in cats. That's right; I said we have NO treatment for heartworm disease in cats. Even if your cat spends all her time indoors, she is still at risk. Have you ever been bit by a mosquito while inside? I thought so. All it takes is one bite to cause significant illness in your pet.  Wouldn't you want to prevent that if you could?


3) Intestinal parasites can infect people, too.
In addition to causing significant diarrhea and vomiting in dogs and cats, there are intestinal parasites that can also infect people. I don't want to gross you out too much, so I won't go into detail, but I put a link to the CDC pages on hookworms and roundworms below. So if you want to check it out go for it. If you have children, please check the pages out. They are often the ones most commonly affected by these parasites. Monthly deworming, which is included in the monthly heartworm preventatives we recommend can help protect your pet and your family from these parasites.


4) Prevention is safe and effective.
Okay, that may not be entirely true. Here is the deal. Not all products are safe and effective. Many of the over the counter products that you can find at the grocery or pet store use very outdated and unsafe chemicals. They have very little efficacy and can be very harmful to your dog or cat. I have seen seizures and tremors after some of these products have been applied. Most flea and tick shampoos have no residual activity. As soon as you wash the shampoo off your pet the bugs can get right back on.  But don't worry!! There are products that are safe AND effective, and we can help you pick the right product for your pet's risk and your family's lifestyle. We take into consideration all sorts of things like travel, children, and possible exposure before recommending any parasite prevention. We want to tailor your pet's parasite prevention as individually as possible so please share with us any questions or concerns you may have. Another great thing is that now there are many products that get most of these bugs in one easy to give medication. There are topical and oral medications that prevent or kill fleas, heartworms, and common intestinal parasites! So it is super easy to protect your pet! Two more important points; one, please call us before giving or applying ANY product to your pet. It may be great, but it may not, and that is what we are here for! And two, all of these products MUST be used as directed. Don't use your dog meds on your cat or your 50 pound dog meds on your 20 pound dog. You may be laughing that I would even mention it, but trust me, it happens.  So, I guess I should have said: Veterinary Approved Prevention is Safe and Effective When Used Correctly.


5) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I am not sure exactly how this works in dollars and cents; but just to guess, I would say it was closer to a cent of prevention is worth $1 of cure. That's a pretty good return, right? Seriously, preventing fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites can help you save huge on a yearly basis. In addition to avoiding the diarrhea, vomiting, scratching, skin disease, anemia, and heart disease that some of the above mentioned bugs can cause, you are also avoiding the cost to treat all of those things! Granted, there are other diseases that can cause these issues, but if you can prevent a few of the major players, that decreases your chances right? There are also great options now in the area of pet insurance, and lots of these plans help cover annual preventatives like heartworm and flea and tick control.


Spring is a great time of year. Don't get stuck inside worrying about your pet bringing in some creepy, crawly thing! Protect your pet and your household by using a comprehensive, safe, veterinary approved parasite prevention protocol. Call us to discuss how we can tailor a prevention plan exactly to the needs of your pet and your family! Let us help you and your pet get ready for Spring!!

Great links:
Companion Animal Parasite Council
American Heartworm Society
CDC Websites

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