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Ruby suffers heat stroke

Ruby quietly resting at the animal hospital
Today was not a good day for Ruby. It started out early on a sour note; we lost power some time before 7am, and didn't get it back until 8am. I had planned to take Max and Ruby on an early walk before the heat got unbearable. That got pushed back until the power came back on.

So we pushed off at 8:30am on a walk we've taken so many times before, but after sundown in order to avoid the heat of the day, usually because it's after I've come home from the job and worked a bit around the house. On those evening walks, I let them rest after their walk for at least 45 minutes, until I hear no more panting. Then they get fed for the evening.

This morning was different. Judy had fed the labs at 6:30am, so they still had food in their stomachs, even two hours after being fed. The walk was the usual energetic walk, with Ruby checking everything and everyone out, and running to meet and greet two- and four-legged stranger alike. The walk normally runs for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how they feel and what additional roads we walk down before we finally get home.

Ruby is nearly 2, and Max is nearly 10. In spite of Max's "advanced" age, he walks like the Energizer Bunny; he just goes and goes and goes. Ruby is turning out to be different. She doesn't quite have the stamina that Max has, and that limitation caused her issues with today's walk.

I could tell she was having problems; right before we got home, at the entrance to the street on which we live, she sat down to rest. Ruby has never sat down on a walk before, but she did today. She was breathing heavily and saliva coated her lower jaw. That was the first warning.

I let her rest, then she got back up and walked slowly to the front door. The house is of course air conditioned, and we have ceramic tile throughout the house. Ruby immediately went into the kitchen and laid down, spread-eagled with her lower body against the cool tiles, and continued to pant. It was shortly there-after that she threw up water; she'd apparently gone to her water bowl and had a long drink. That was the second warning.

We were going to take Max and Ruby to the groomers, but right before we took them out to the car Ruby lost her breakfast, and in the process she threw up on herself. Ruby (or any normal dog) will not throw up on themselves. And Ruby, as gross as it may sound, will eat it back. She wasn't interested and she was growing increasingly listless. This was the third warning.

Judy immediately tried to find an thermometer to take Ruby's temperature, but couldn't find it. We immediately called our local vet, and I got the car ready to transport Ruby to the vets. Max was showing absolutely no effects from the walk, so we left him in the house. He was curious and concerned about Ruby. It was now a little past 11am. I picked up Ruby and carried her out to lie in the back of the car, and Judy and I transported her to the vets.

When we got there they had me carry Ruby to the back and onto their examination table. The vet on duty immediately shaved her leg and started a full saline IV into her leg to get her hydrated. In the mean time they checked her temperature, and found it was normal. Ruby was still listless. In a example of the proper use of drugs, the vet gave her a shot or steroids to help her. In the mean time they called a veterinary emergency clinic and I transported her there, with the IV still attached.

We got her there and I carried her out and put her on a cart. They ran blood work on her and she was diagnosed at the beginning of heat stroke. They just called us to let us know that she's beginning to show limited petechia on her stomach, so they will give her a unit of plasma. Otherwise she's aware of her surroundings and she isn't vomiting. She's still considered critical, but she's maintaining body temperature.

Judy has owned Labs for 30 years, and I've co-owned them with her for 27 of those 30 years. I've never had a problem like this before. I feel absolutely horrible to have put Ruby in this condition. We think we caught it early enough, and Ruby is still a juvenile, so she has the strength of youth on her side.

All we can do now is wait and let nature take its course.


  1. My thoughts are with you all, and my best wishes for Ruby's speedy recovery.


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