A Summertime Safety Reminder

Pet Safety

You wouldn’t think that I would need to write this anymore. That people would know by now. But, unfortunately, I still see dogs left in cars and suffering at our wonderful, local, festivals. Pet owners just love their adorable dogs so much that they do not want to leave them at home – forgetting that it is not only hazardous to their health but can be fatal.

Dogs do not sweat. Their only sweat glands are located on the undersides of their paws. Their major means of fighting heat is by panting but this practice is not enough when temperatures soar. It is even less effective in humid conditions – and what summer day in NC is not humid.

Even if the temperature is in the 80’s outside, the temperatures in a parked car can quickly (minutes only) reach well over 100 – even with the windows partially open. Some people think that it is ok to leave their dog in the car with the windows open if they attach their leash somewhere so that the dog cannot jump out. If something enticing walks past, another dog or squirrel, your dog may still attempt to jump out and hang itself by breaking its neck. What a terrible thing to come back to. I have seen it happen. Fortunately, I was able to get to the dog quick enough to save it.

Sad, the poor dog that lives outside tied to a doghouse or living in a pen without any relief from the heat. When I see this, I want to tie the owner outside to see how he or she likes it. If you must keep your dog tied outside, make sure that it has plenty of water, shade and some means of cooling off such as a wading pool or sprinkler. And bring it inside into the air conditioning when the weather gets too hot.

Our pets still need exercise, to go for long walks, play ball or fetch a stick, but it is best to enjoy these activities after the sun goes down or early in the morning. My dog, Connor, and I try to get outside for our walk before 8 in the morning; and sometimes, we have to cut our trip short if it is too hot and humid. I use him as my excuse but I suffer just as much.

The moral of this article, is to be very aware of the heat and humidity in any activities you are doing with your beloved companion. Do not take them to the festivals. Not only is the temperature too hot but the asphalt will burn their paws. Do not leave them in a parked car. Do not exercise them during the heat of the day. Do not leave them tied outside without shade. Give them plenty of water and keep them in air conditioning.

If you suspect that your pet in on the verge of heatstroke, cool him down with a hose or towels soaked in cool water. Then get to the Veterinary hospital as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence. This can be fatal.

This is something else that we don’t think about – if you need to take your dog or cat on an airplane during the summer months, schedule your flight for nighttime or early morning . Be sure to check with your airline to find out whether or not the cargo hold is temperature controlled. If not, don’t do it.

Living in the south presents a whole new way of looking at things when it comes to our beloved pets. Northerners might not realize how much their dog or cat can suffer from the heat. If you have a long-haired breed, consider getting its hair cut back for the summer. If you have a squashed face breed – Pugs, Boston Terriers – know that they can overheat even quicker than other breeds because of their unique upper respiratory tract anatomy.

Enjoy the summer. Take your beloved pet when appropriate. When not, know that it is home safe and cool waiting for you when you get back.   Even if your dog pouts and whines, it is better to feel a bit guilty than to have its ashes on a book shelf.

Submitted by: Bonnie Compton, Pals for Paws

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