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Dogs are among the most at risk of dying from heat stroke, as the mercury in Israel continues to climb and shows no sign of coming down. If our canine friends' body temperatures reach 42 degrees Celsius, death can come quickly.

Dogs suffering heat stroke should be immediately carried to a shady location. The dog should then be cooled with cold water and then rushed to the nearest veterinarian.

The chances of saving a dog suffering from heat stroke are not good, however. Medical treatment for the condition is complicated and expensive and most dog owners are woefully unaware of the risk of heat stroke among their four-legged friends.

"If a dog is stricken with heat stroke and has a 42-degree fever continuously for 10 minutes, its condition is generally terminal, a lost cause," said Dr. Ezra Shaharabani, who runs a veterinary clinic near Ashdod, and who dealt with the death of two dogs over the past weekend alone.

He explained that the usual treatment is giving the dog blood plasma intravenously. Each unit costs about NIS 600 and there are some dogs that require as many as ten units. "Owners begin to weigh the economic costs," Shaharabani said, "and dogs die."

Canine heat stroke

Israel is considered a world leader in research on heat stroke among dogs. Officials from the U.S. army recently contacted the Hebrew University veterinary hospital at Beit Dagan for advice on minimizing heat stroke among dogs in their canine units in the hot desert conditions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Special dog vests were even invented recently for these forces, designed to cool [the dog's] body a little to prevent a deterioration in their medical condition," Dr. Yaron Bruchim of the animal hospital said. "The best solution is to recognize the dangers."

He said when a dog shows symptoms of heat stroke, such as fatigue, weakness, spasms or a loss of consciousness, it should be drenched with a spray of water and brought to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.