OBSERVATION: There has been a lot of hot weather this summer. Some weeks have had temperatures in the upper 70's and 80's. This raises concerns for potential heat illness. Warm homes can effect entire families but there are special risk groups we are worrying about. Pets are sometimes in yards without shade and can easily become overheated without enough water. Parents of small children and infants are challenged to provide protection from sun and insects without overheating. There is also a concern for heat illness as people are working outside, in the sun, in their smoke houses, etc. We are concerned about education and adaptation for people learning how to stay cool. Ron Loftfield
LEO COMMENT: This post was forwarded to ANTHC and BBAHC staff involved in either community health, clinical health, or healthy homes programs. Information regarding the prevention of heat illness can be found here: CDC and a tool kit for school education is provided at this link.
CONSULT: A consultation regarding dogs and heat illness is provided as follows by Dr Mike Bradley, a member of the LEO Network. CANINE HEAT STROKE:
Alaska is on track to have the hottest summer on record. While most of us are delighted it does bring some risks. Compared to many animals, dogs are more vulnerable to heat illness. Older dogs, dogs that are obese and dogs with heavy coats and breeds like pugs and bulldogs are especially vulnerable. Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat injury. A dog suffering from heat stroke can die very quickly. Signs include vigorous panting, dark red gums, lying down, lethargy and elevated temperature. Normal body temperature in a dog is around 103F. A body temperature of 106F or over is a dire emergency.
If heat stroke occurs get the animal out of the heat and out of the sun. Offer the animal water and immerse the dog in cool water or cool with wet towels. If a veterinarian is available get the animal to a vet as soon as possible. But the best way to deal with heat stroke is to prevent it! During hot weather keep animals in the shade and make sure they always have water! Limit strenuous activity. Unfortunately heat stroke in dogs can come on very rapidly with very little warning. When a dog starts panting excessively and begins to slow down, stop and let the animal recover. About every third vehicle in Alaska has a dog, sometimes several. During warm weather do not leave animals in a parked vehicle for more than a few minutes. If you can’t park in the shade with windows open a little maybe Fido should stay home. Mike Bradley, DVM
LEO COMMENT: LEO recommends Native America Calling: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 – Coping With Warmer Weather. A summer heat wave moved across the United States last week. Many communities in Alaska and the Northeast experienced higher than normal temperatures. Did you experience this hot weather? How did you cope? Do you worry about your health or the health of your parents and grandparents during hot summer months? Did you grow up in an area where high temperatures were normal and the houses and lifestyle adapted to those conditions? Have hotter temperatures in recent years caused you to make changes around your house or office? Guests include Gary Ferguson (Unangan), Director of Wellness and Prevention with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.