Owners warned of hiking dangers after dogs die of heat stroke

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A veterinary office in Hawaii Kai is warning dog owners about the dangers of heat stroke after several dogs were rushed in to be treated.

Most days at Gentle Vets are full of happy faces and wagging tails, but Aissa Stoermer told KHON2 the last few months have also been filled with heartache.

We’re told six dogs have come into the office for heat stroke. None of them survived.

“It comes in every few weeks. Some don’t make it before they come in through the front door, and others will put on a good fight for many hours,” Stoermer said. “We’ve spent an entire day, an entire shift trying to save the lives of dogs.”

The dog owners all had one thing in common. They said they didn’t realize they were putting their dog at risk.

“They’re wearing a fur coat. They’re not able to sweat. They sweat through their paws and through panting, so if they’re on a hot surface, the heat is not able to escape,” Stoermer said. “They actually said they gave him bottles upon bottles of water and the dog did drink it, but again, the dog wasn’t able to let the heat escape his body. They still couldn’t save him from overheating.”

Some of the staff are now posting signs at popular hikes to educate dog owners with signs warning about the dangers of daytime walks and hikes.

Temporary signs are posted at Makapuu Lookout, Koko Crater Trail, and Hanauma Bay.

Stoermer said she’s working with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to get permanent signs posted.

“You can have the healthiest, strongest, most muscular dog but it just doesn’t matter because heat is heat,” Stoermer said.

Excessive panting, red gums, vomiting and a lethargic dog are all signs of heat stroke.

Short-nose breeds like pugs and bull dogs, and larger dogs with long hair are more susceptible but every dog is at risk.

The best time to go out with your dog is at dusk or dawn.

Gentle Vets said if you still decide to go during the day, walk in shaded areas and bring plenty of water.

We’re told another good rule of thumb is feeling the pavement with your bare foot. If it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your dog.

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