The brutal heat isn’t just tormenting the humans of Thailand but their beloved pets as well.
Famed rocker Athiwara “Toon Bodyslam” Khongmalai, whose dog Somkid died Friday of heat stroke, became yet another animal lover to learn this week that the current punishing heatwave isn’t just hazardous to those on two legs.
“Thank you na Somkid for bringing me and my family smiles for the last 12 years. Rest in peace. I will always love and miss you,” Athiwara wrote on Instagram.
In fact, everything the rock star philanthropist has posted since then has been dedicated to his late beloved French Bulldog, even if just referencing him with a panda emoji.
People’s animal companions have been falling sick or dying, leading many to warn their fellow animal lovers about the potentially fatal risk of their pets getting heatstroke.
Pong Techapongtada, a veterinarian at the Thonglor Pet Hospital, said Tuesday that people have been rushing their stroked-out pets into the emergency room practically every day. He said people should indeed be on “high alert” about the dangers posed by excessive heat.
For many though, those warnings came too late.
The owner of a pet food store took to the internet to share how his Siberian Husky, Lucky, fell sick while on an upcountry vacation. Lucky’s worsening condition during the drive back to Bangkok prompted his humans to stop and admit him to Khon Kaen University’s Veterinary Hospital, where he died a day later.
“Have fun running and playing in heaven, Lucky. Rest in Peace,” the owners of B.A.R.F Station wrote.
They said Lucky’s first symptoms manifested as blood seeping from his snout, which later stopped. Yet he still showed other symptoms that, in hindsight, they now know were warning signs, such as repeatedly jumping into a pond.
“I’m very sad but have to pull myself together. … we prepared as much as we could for the heat, but it wasn’t enough. Pet owners, please be mindful of your animals at home,” they wrote on social media.
The pet store’s post from last week gained virality this week when dozens of others flocked to comment on the thread with their own experiences of overheating pets.
“The same thing happened to my dog. It all happened so fast,” commented Facebook user Kanyavee Narak with pictures of her own beloved pooch.
“My puppy was only two months old when they got heat stroke and died about 10 days ago,” another wrote Thursday.
One commenter got lucky and saved her pooch in the nick of time. Facebook user Mai Sangkaew commented that her chihuahua suddenly went stiff and began frothing at the mouth. “I had to shower her with almost all the cold water in my fridge,” Mai said.
And it’s not just dogs. Some netizens described similar symptoms affecting their hamsters, bunnies and cats.
What to look out for
So what are the symptoms and can heat stroke be prevented?
As with humans, heat stroke in pets occurs when body temperatures rise above the range they can tolerate. That varies from breed to breed, but in dogs the cut-off point is generally 41C, according to PetMD.
Observable symptoms, according to the American Animal Hospital Association:
Excessive panting and drooling, difficulty breathing, irregular heart beat, vomiting / vomiting blood, weakness, stupor or collapsing, seizures and bloody diarrhea.
To avoid heat stroke, owners should never leave their pets alone in parked cars and make sure they spend most of their time in cooler areas – air-conditioned if possible.
When outdoors, make sure your pet has access to shade and isn’t constantly under direct sunlight. And always provide them fresh water.
Thonglor veterinarian Pong Techapongtada also suggested measuring pets temperatures by sucking it up and sticking a thermometer up their bum. He said anything above 103F should be worrisome.
What to do
As soon as your pets display symptoms of heat stroke, owners must immediately cool them by soaking towels in lukewarm water and wrapping them around the affected animal. Pets can also be placed in front of a fan swabbed on their paws and bellies with cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol.
The animal hospital association says to never use cold water because cooling pets too rapidly could also harm them.
After the pet has started to cool down, call or visit a veterinarian for further instructions as medication may be required, depending on the severity of the heat stroke.
Learn more about caring for your pets during a heatwave from the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals.