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We Love Pets
by Terri Klinsky
2010-07-14

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It was a hot, humid Pride Parade this year and yet I saw several people walking with their dogs in the parade. I saw one dog with a towel over him/her. I spoke to the owner ( OK, I will admit that it was more like I screamed at the owner ) and she insisted that the dog was fine and the towel was wet. A towel wrapped around a dog only creates steam and covering the dog only attracts and traps more heat. I also saw a small beagle trying to walk through the leftover rain puddles to cool its paws. I have no doubt that the people I saw with dogs love their dogs so I thought it was time to once again remind people about the dangers of allowing your dog to be out in the summer heat. I am hoping that people will think twice about bringing their dogs to parades and summer street fairs. I did check with the Pride Parade organizers and found out that pets are not permitted in the parade and it is stated so in the forms that all parade participants sign.

Dogs don't sweat like we do; they get rid of the heat through panting and some minimal sweating through their paws. Panting helps dogs cool themselves but they are not as efficient at cooling themselves as people are. Unlike us, they will not stop and rest when they are hot. They will keep moving to stay close to and to please their owners. It is up to us to make sure they are safe.

When the temperature is very high, don't let your dog walk on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your dog's body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Walks should be kept to a minimum and should be done either early in the morning or late in the evening. Walking on grass is much better for their paws than walking on hot asphalt or sidewalks.

Dehydration can happen quickly, so offer your dog water several times on a walk. They are not going to ask you to stop at a fountain. Dogs with darker coats, small dogs or overweight dogs will heat up faster than other dogs.

Heatstroke can happen quickly and result in brain damage or death. Watch for symptoms such as restlessness, excessive thirst; heavy panting; lethargy; lack of appetite; dark tongue; rapid heartbeat; fever; vomiting; or lack of coordination. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, get her or him into the shade immediately and call your veterinarian. Lower the animal's body temperature gradually by providing water to drink; applying a cold towel or ice pack to the head, neck, and chest; or immersing the dog in lukewarm ( not cold ) water.

The most frustrating thing is seeing a dog left in a car in the summer. Believe it or not, it only takes 15 minutes for a small dog to get heatstroke. Even on a relatively cool summer day ( 78 degrees ) a shaded car's temperature is 90 degrees and a car parked in the sun can reach 160 degrees in only minutes. So either use the drive-through or skip the latté altogether if your dog is traveling with you.

I hope this information helps both humans and their pets enjoy a safer, happier summer together.


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