Back on dry land: Sheera the German Shepherd spent six hours in near-freezing pool (Image: Vets Now)
German shepherd Sheera suffered hypothermia as she tried to keep afloat in the chilling waters after stumbling into the pool while chasing a rabbit. She was eventually found in the dark, paddling for all her might, but she was still in danger. Vets discovered her body temperature had plunged to a critical 32C – six degrees below normal.
By putting Sheera on an electric heat pad and with warm air blowing into her fur, vets were able to raise her temperature by more than 2C within 15 minutes. Within two hours Sheera was well enough to go home.
Her owner Sue Mitchell has now described how Sheera came within minutes of succumbing to the cold temperatures after dashing off to chase a rabbit during a recent afternoon walk near her home in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire.
Agonisingly, she could hear the barks of a distant dog as she searched frantically for Sheera, a rescue dog from Ireland who had been abandoned by previous owners.
With no sign of the strikingly-marked pet, Ms Mitchell turned to her local Facebook group and soon well-wishers had joined the search in fading light.
Sheera back in the swim - relaxing on sofa at home (Image: Vets Now)
It was at 10.30pm, six hours after vanishing, a family friend discovered Sheera paddling frantically in an uncovered wooden swimming pool in the grounds of nearby property, managing to haul her out of the water, which was so low that the 30kg animal had become trapped. Exhausted and frozen, Sheera collapsed.
Ms Mitchell explained: “Sheera was so cold she was on the brink of death. I really think that even another five minutes in the pool and she would have drowned.
“She’d scraped her legs between the paws and elbows. She was traumatised, really frightened and had given all her energy to trying to save her life. It was awful to see her in that state.”
Sheera was rushed to the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in nearby Hempstead, where her temperature had dropped to a critical level.
Vets Now emergency vet Michelle Dawson explained: “Sheera’s temperature was dangerously low when she arrived at our clinic. She had also bitten her tongue and had wounds on her left dewclaw. Thankfully though, her condition improved as our vet and vet nurse slowly warmed her up.
“Everyone at Vets Now Hemel Hempstead is so pleased to hear she’s back to full health. But her case shows just how dangerous hazards like swimming pools and ponds can be for dogs, especially if they’re left uncovered over winter.”
Reduce Stress. Dr. Becker notes, “The key is to reduce anxiety triggers.” If you have a vet visit, “don’t get the carrier out the night before,” give them a few days to get prepared. If they’re nervous alone or travelling, play soothing music, or draw the shades. The less stimulus pets receive from the outside world, the less anxiety they’ll have about events outside their control.
Sheera being cuddled by owner Sue Mitchell (Image: Vets Now)
Vets say Sheera only survived because she is young and fit and she was able to go home wrapped in blankets after only two hours.
Ms Mitchell, who works as a therapist, added: “When Sheera was missing I was just beside myself with worry. When you’ve got a rescue dog who’s already been through a distressing life you feel doubly bad when they are in pain.
“When we were looking for her, the more we called her name, the louder she barked and cried. My friend was blowing the same whistle we use to call Sheera so she knew we were looking for her. It was desperately upsetting.
“Where we found her was a mile and half from where we’d first heard the barking – that’s how much noise she made. She’s such a clever dog – and a brilliant companion, I couldn’t imagine life without her.
“The staff at Vets Now were so kind and the number of people who came out to help look for Sheera was just amazing.”
The Vets Now clinic in Hemel Hempstead was recently rated as “outstanding” in the delivery of emergency and critical care by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. It is one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays. See:www.vets-now.com