VERDE VALLEY – The heat is on – and our pets are feeling it even more than we are.
Signs of heatstroke
Extreme summer temperatures can cause heatstroke. Animals at particular risk are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have a heart or respiratory diseases. Dogs and cats with flat faces or short muzzles have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.
Some signs to watch for include:
-body temperature above 104 degrees
-lack of coordination and stumbling
-deep red or purple tongue and gums
“I think the most important thing is, if we’re uncomfortable, then their little hair-bodies have a good chance of being twice as uncomfortable,” said Dr. Jennifer Gummo-Wagner of Verde Veterinary Hospital.
Walking with wisdom
Dr. Gummo-Wagner suggests that an owner put their hand down on the pavement. If the human can’t hold their hand on it comfortably, then a paw wouldn’t be able to stand on it comfortably.
Booties can be used to protect the pet’s feet, or the owner can pick a different time for the walk if possible, she said.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said when the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger or hot asphalt.
“Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum,” said ASPCA on their website.
Walking on grass is ideal.
Yavapai County Emergency Management recommends limiting a pet’s exercise on hot days, and adjusting the intensity and duration in accordance with the temperature.
“On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets who typically have difficulty breathing,” said YCEM in a news release.
Even if your pets are active and in tip-top shape, said American Humane, you may want to adjust their activities to avoid midday sweltering temps during the summer.
“Remember, our furry friends can’t cool themselves as well as we can. They rely on panting and limited sweating through the bottoms of their paws to cool down,” stated American Humane on their website.
Staying safe outside
Always provide ample shade and plenty of fresh, cool water when taking pets outside.
They can get dehydrated quickly.
Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct airflow, said YCEM.
But beware of doghouses. “A doghouse does not provide relieve from heat, in fact, it makes it worse,” stated the release from YCEM.
Also, be sure than any sunscreen or insect repellent product used on pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.
“Commonly used rodenticides and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. Keep citronella candles, tiki torch products and insect coils of out pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance,” said ASPCA.
Be mindful of the pool as well.
“Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool—not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals,” said ASPCA.
Keeping cool inside
What to do if you suspect heatstroke
If your pet seems like he or she is overheated, is panting hard, or seems distressed, you want to cool them down quickly without shocking the animal’s system.
“So if it is a big dog, get out the hose and just start hosing them down. Try to get them to drink some ice water. If it’s a little thing, get them in the bathtub or shower and hose them down,” said Dr. Gummo-Wagner.
If you suspect your pet may be dehydrated, Dr. Gummo-Wagner recommends unflavored Pedialyte, which offers electrolytes and extra sodium.
“Then offer ice water,” she said.
If your pet showed signs of heatstroke but has been cooled and now appears fine, do not assume that all is well,” warned Animal Humane.
“Internal organs, such as the liver, kidneys, and the brain, or all affected by extreme body temperature elevation. It is best to have a veterinarian examine your pet to assess potential health complications and ensure that the other risks are not over looked,” added the agency.
Pets respond differently to heat than humans do, which is why fans don’t cool them off effectively, said YCEM.
The agency recommends serving cold treats to dogs, such as peanut butter popsicles.
And of course, always provide plenty of water.
Also, be mindful of open, unscreened windows, said ASPCA. They pose a danger to pets who could accidently fall out of them.
Consider a summer hair cut as well.
“Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog,” warned YCEM. The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn, the agency explained.
Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.
Dr. Gummo-Wagner warns against taking a pet for a car ride during high temps.
“You can’t leave them in the car this time of year,” she said.
Even when it’s a comfortable 70 degrees outside, explained American Humane, the temperature inside a parked car can climb to 90 degrees in 10 minutes, and up to 110 degrees in less than an hour, exposing our furry friends to a serious risks of discomfort, illness, and even death.
“Responsible animal lovers can do their part to help other pets in danger: if you see a distressed dog inside a parked car on a warm day, immediately call your local animal control or law enforcement for help,” advised American Humane.
“Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. Not only can it lead to fatal heat stroke, it is illegal in several states,” said ASPCA.
In May, Arizona passed a house bill which provides immunity to would-be rescuers who break a car window to save the life of a pet or child in danger.
To qualify for immunity (and not be sued for damages), the person must notify a police officer, medical services provider, or an appropriate animal control officer. They also must remain onsite.
Summer is the time for outdoor feasts and fireworks, but pet owners should be mindful.
“Remember that food and drink commonly found at barbeques can be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments,” said ASPCA.
Pets should avoid ingesting raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol, said the agency.
Our furry friends should be left at home when we go out to enjoy Fourth of July celebrations, and fireworks should never be used around pets.
“Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma, and even unused fireworks can contain hazardous materials. Many pets are also fearful of loud noises and can become lost, scared or disoriented, so it’s best to keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area of your home,” ASPCA recommended.
For more information and tips, visit YCEM’s website at http://www.yavapai.us/publicworks/emergency-management, http://www.americanhumane.org/, and https://www.aspca.org/.