Keeping your pet cool and hydrated during hot weather is essential. Most of us know not to leave pets in a hot car — not even for a minute — but what about when they’re at home or out with you for some fun in the sun?
When home, it’s best for pets to be in a cool house with fresh water. If appropriate, install a dog door for indoor/outdoor access. Next best is a secure area outside with plenty of shade and water. Shade from trees and shrubbery is good but a roofed patio, deck, a well-ventilated canopy or an open-air tent is better.
Add outdoor safety and comfort by providing a water system connected to a faucet for water on demand; water misters to lower temperatures; water in tubs or kiddie pools for drinking and cooling off. Keep pools in shade and empty when not in use to prevent mosquitoes.
Monitor outdoor activities. If you’re hot, your pet is hot. Would you be comfortable walking barefoot on hot pavement or sand? How about running around in the sun chasing a ball or stick? So limit walks, hikes and other activities to mornings and evenings in hot weather.
Heat stroke or heat exhaustion is more common than you think. While a dog’s body temperature can rise rapidly, its ability to cool down is limited to panting and sweating through footpads and nose. When body temperature reaches 106 degrees, irreversible damage or death can occur.
Signs of heat stroke include vigorous or labored panting, glazed eyes, dark red/purple gums or tongue, disorientation, immobility, seizure, and unconsciousness.
What to do if you suspect heat stroke:
* Move pet out of the sun immediately.
* Immerse pet in cool water or pour water over its body. Place wet clothes on footpads and around the head. Do not cover the body with wet towels, as they may trap in heat.
* Avoid ice or ice water as blood vessels may constrict and cause the internal temperature to rise further.
* Offer cool water but do not force water into pet’s mouth.
* Consult your veterinarian ASAP. Even if your pet seems better, internal damage may have occurred.
Happy Tails: For six years, Paul and Heidi Steinke talked about adopting a dog but with newborns and trips, the timing wasn’t right until this spring. Daughters Lindsay, 5, and Piper, 3, were now a little older and there was time to welcome a dog into their family.
Searching online for a smaller dog that wouldn’t shed, they found a shih tzu mix in foster care. A “meet-and-greet” was arranged. Paul writes, “We met at a park … and the girls instantly fell in love with her. She treated the girls very nicely and they treated her nicely and so we decided that she was the dog for us.
“When Nala first arrived, she was very quiet, calm and shy. One sad thing I noticed was that she would cower every time I picked up a pole-like object. I worked with her on this and … she no longer cowers or shows any fear. It’s been nice to be able to alleviate some stresses from her past.
“The girls love their dog. I’ll come home from work to hear stories about the various things Nala has done through the day. How she got away during a walk (though even when Nala “gets away,” she doesn’t run from us) or (pretending) how she kept changing the rear temp in the car … because she’s hot or cold.
“She is a nice addition to our family and has really been able to find her place among us.”
— Evelyn Dale of Davis is a volunteer and advocate for shelter animal welfare; her column is published monthly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org