Grand County Search and Rescue saves sick pet |

Grand County Search and Rescue saves sick pet

Hikers' dog suffered from altitude sickness on Crater Lake

Without assistance from Grand County Search and Rescue, this Staffordshire terrier mix may not have made it down from the campsite. Altitude sickness can strike pets when they travel to higher elevations too quickly.
Grand County Search and Rescue/Courtesy Photo

Altitude sickness can affect dog just like people. On Saturday, Oct. 8, two hikers at Crater Lake in Indian Peaks Wilderness found themselves in a tough situation when their sick dog become immobile. The hikers had been camping overnight and their dog, an 80-pound Staffordshire terrier mix, was unable to walk from the campsite due to altitude sickness.

One of the campers hiked out to find cell service and request assistance. The other camper stayed behind with the dog at their location about 3.5 miles up from Monarch Lake.

Grand County Search and Rescue answered the call and seven members responded, with five entering the field at 8:27 p.m. Some 4.5 miles later, at 10:30 p.m., the team contacted the dog and owner.

“The dog was extremely sick and lethargic with altitude sickness. Wouldn’t even raise head to acknowledge rescuers,” said the incident commander for the rescue. “(The) team loaded dog into our new dog rescue harness and the team split in two to get the dog down ASAP. Three members began carrying dog down, two members stayed with subject to pack up camp. The dog was … 80 pounds of pure muscle and super sweet. As the dog got to a lower altitude, he perked up and was able to walk on his own. The team manufactured some socks for his sore feet.”

The search and rescue crew believes it was the right call for them to help, since the dog would not have made it out on his own power and the owner would not have been able to get him out. The friend that hiked out for help also had altitude sickness. All were safely out of the field by 1:15 a.m.

Grand County Search and Rescue would like to remind visitors from lower elevations that altitude sickness can affect anybody, including a canine friend, who is traveling to higher elevations without acclimatization. Also known as mountain sickness, altitude sickness typically strikes when humans or animals go to higher elevations too quickly. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath and inability to exercise. Lethargy and heavy panting or drooling is usually the first sign that a dog is suffering from altitude sickness.

In a more advanced stage, altitude sickness can be life-threatening. The best emergency treatment is to move to a lower elevation. To prevent getting sick, acclimating for a few days at the higher elevation is ideal, along with consuming plenty of water and electrolytes.

Search and Rescue volunteers go the extra mile to bring the dog to safety.
Grand County Search and Rescue/Courtesy Photo

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