If Our Pets Could Talk
By Jackie Kellum
(From the Ojo Archives)
Your dog looks forward to a walk with you, but Summer months present health challenges and sometimes hazards. These are some hot weather pet safety tips for your companion.
Never leave your pet in a car! Parking in the shade and even leaving the windows open is not an option. While you are “just running a quick errand” your pet’s temperature can rise rapidly and overheat in a very short period of time. For example, with the outside temperature at just 78 F / 25.5 C., and the car parked in the shade, the inside car temperature can quickly rise to 90 F / 32.2 C. A car parked in the sun, windows open, the temperature can quickly rise to 160 F / 71.1 C. It only takes minutes to reach dangerous temperature levels leading to heatstroke and even death. Your hot car becomes an oven for your dog – don’t do it!
Always make sure your pet has access to cool, clean water at all times. This is one of the easiest ways to avoid heat injuries in the summer months. Dogs, even cats, drink more water on hot days/ Water warms up quickly, so make sure to change your pet’s water often.
Do not allow your dog to hang his head outside of the window of a moving car. Objects such as gravel or small rocks on the street /road could seriously injure your pet’s face or eyes. He may also fall out onto the road with an abrupt stop and get hit by another car. He can also impulsively jump out of the moving car if he sees something he might want to chase.
Keep your dog’s paws cool at all times. Limit the time you let your dog roam in the backyard and outdoors, especially if he/she is walking on a hot surface. Since the ground heats up quickly during the summertime, your dog’s body heat can rise rapidly, and sensitive paw pads can get burned. Try not to walk your dog during the hottest part of the day: 11 AM – 3 PM. Think of it this way—if you would not be willing to walk barefoot on the hot sidewalk/ asphalt, think what it feels like on your dog’s sensitive feet. If you walk your dog and you carry a bottle of water for yourself, also have water available for your dog, and keep the walks short.
Consider if your dog will be more comfortable and safer at home when it is hot outside, while you run your errands. You can quickly take care of your errands “alone”, and the dog is not stressed in a cooler environment. At home he will not be subjected to the hot weather, hot feet, and possibly walking through crowds of people such as at the tianguis. In this setting he may be stepped on by people looking everywhere but on the ground where he is walking, especially while he is trying to ‘dodge’ people.
Some signs of heat stress are: heavy panting, profuse drooling, ‘glazed eyes’, rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, dizziness, lack of coordination, decreased mental alertness, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue. IF any of these signs are present – immediately move your dog into the shade. If possible, apply a cool wet towel to your pet’s head, neck and chest. Let your pet drink only small amounts of cool water, not all at once. If your dog does not improve, see your vet immediately. Protect your dog in the Summer’s heat!