It is with great sadness that I announce the unexpected death of Bugzy. He leaves behind his mom and dad, 3 two-legged siblings aged 9, 5, and 4, as well as two four-legged brothers.” I left my baby in what I thought to be the capable hands of a well-respected groomer. A few hours later I got a phone call…I was expecting a call around that time to come and pick him up. Instead I had to decipher the words of a sobbing groomer as she explained that she had found Bugzy dead in the drying kennel. I was in shock. It didn’t seem real. “ recounts the tearful mom.
Every single year we hear the same story. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
Why didn’t the groomer notice that Bugzy was in distress? There are several possible reasons that come to mind:
1. The drying cages were out of her field of vision.
2. She did not regularly check on pets while they were drying because they were out of her field of vision.
3. She couldn’t see that Bugzy was in distress because he was out of her field of vision.
Do we see the connection here? There was no one monitoring the pets while they were exposed to heat with little to no air circulation.
Heatstroke begins when the pets’ body temperature surpasses 104 degrees. The factors that set the stage for heatstroke is when the temperature in their environment (cage dryer) becomes higher than their body temperature with little or no air circulation (cage), high humidity (heavy panting) and close quarters (cage). The risk is much higher if groomers cover cages with towels to speed up drying. This is the exact same scenario when people leave their pets in a hot car to go shopping.
Signs of heatstroke include lethargy, heavy breathing and panting, bright red gums and tongue, vomiting and diarrhea. Heatstroke can cause shock, respiratory distress, kidney failure, and heart abnormalities among other complications. Damage can become irreversible once their body temperature reaches 106 degrees. Death follows. It is imperative that the pet receives medical attention before their temperature reaches 106 degrees. The only way to prevent this is with constant monitoring of the drying area. Minutes can make the difference between the life, quality of life, and death.
Very young, very old, immune compromised, brachycephalic (dogs with pushed in faces), pregnant, and nursing dogs, as well as all cats are more susceptible to heatstroke.
What can be done if heatstroke occurs?
1. Remove the pet from the hot environment!
2. Lower the body temperature by wetting with cool water.
3. Do not use cold water or ice water. It is counterproductive. It will shock the system and cause a thermal barrier. The pet will be unable to cool itself.
4. Contact a veterinarian for instructions.
5. Transport to veterinarian as soon as possible.
This is a preventable accident. Drying cages are one of our tools. Use it responsibly. If you do not have someone to monitor the pets while drying, then table dry them. There is an empty home right now that needn’t be.
For Pet Owners:
1. Ask questions. If the groomer is too busy to answer them, find another.
2. Ask to see the drying area. Notice if it is in their normal field of vision. If not, ask if someone is stationed there.
3. Find a groomer that table dries. (Note- not all dogs are candidates for table drying. The loud noise of the high velocity dryers is too much for some pets.)