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A Katy Family Warns How a Simple Dog Walk Can Lead to Heatstroke


August 3, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark

Summer is still here with high temperatures and high humidity making conditions dangerous for Katy’s dog community. A local vet talks about the risks of heatstroke. One Katy family shares their terrifying story that should alert all dog-loving Katy families.

Katy Dog Survives Heatstroke

“We never thought he was hot or that he was overheating,” says Katy resident Becky Tulenko of her black Labrador, Traveler.

Proud Katy Dog Lovers

The Tulenko family are proud dog lovers. They currently have two Great Danes, two Labradors, and a Belgian Malinois. Before that day, like many families, they didn't think their dog walk could lead to heatstroke. Most associate it with leaving a dog outside or in a car.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA,) heatstroke can happen when a dog is left outside for too long without water or in an unairconditioned vehicle. However, it can also occur when humidity is high (even with a lower temperature) and/or if your dog doesn’t take breaks from playing to cool off.

“Heatstroke is so devastating because it can happen so quickly and if not treated fast enough, it can even be fatal,” says Dr. Cynthia Aswad, Associate Veterinarian at The WellPet Center Veterinary Hospital in Katy.

The Tulenkos were living at a local hotel when they were waiting for their Katy home to be ready when they decided to take 12-year-old Traveler for a walk. They took him for a walk along a creek that he loved to play with a ball at.

“We started to walk back to the hotel and boom, Traveler collapsed,” says Tulenko. “He could not get up and his eyes rolled back. His tongue was very dry.”

They carried him back to their room and ended up taking him to a vet when he still wouldn’t get up. The vet had to slowly cool down his body temperature.

“It was the scariest thing to watch,” says Tulenko. “It took him two days to be normal. We almost lost him.”

A Katy Vet Warns of Heatstroke Signs

According to Dr. Aswad, the first signs that your dog is overheating are excessive panting, drooling, or bright red gums.

Traveler Tulenko

“This can very rapidly progress to weakness, trouble maintaining balance, and collapse,” says Dr. Aswad. “If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to immediately stop the activity and start to cool your dog down.”

Dr. Aswad advises taking your dog to a vet but first getting them to a cool area. Run cool water over them (no ice) and put them in front of the air-conditioning in the car on the way to the vet.

The Tulenko family was lucky. Their heatstroke story has a happy ending. Traveler enjoys his days cuddling on the couch, but they hope their story helps to save other dogs.

Heatstroke is a real risk in Katy weather. Dr. Aswad says it happens. The WellPet Center Veterinary Hospital doesn’t see too many cases because most of them go to local emergency vet clinics rather than the general practitioner veterinarian.

Be Aware of Heat, Humidity

“Be aware of the heat and humidity when going outside with your dog, and never leave a dog in a hot car,” says Dr. Aswad. “Limit playtime outside to just a couple minutes when it is the heat of the day or extremely muggy and always provide access to fresh water.”


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