09 June 2008

Hot Enough for You?

As Ace and his good friend Joey can tell you, it has been pretty darned hot -- meaning it's time for a list of tips to help your dog cope with summertime heat.

For starters: Make sure your dog always has water, and never leave him in a parked car. Even with the windows cracked, even in the shade, a parked automobile can quickly become a furnace. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. At 110 degrees, pets are in danger of heatstroke, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). A recent study by the Stanford University School of Medicine showed that temperatures inside cars can rise dramatically even on mild days. With outside temperatures as low as 72 degrees, researchers found that a car's interior temperature can heat up by an average of 40 degrees within an hour, with 80 percent of that increase in the first 30 minutes.

While people can roll down windows or turn on the air conditioner, pets cannot -- and they don't sweat like we do, either. Their sweat glands, which are on their nose and the pads of their feet, are inadequate for cooling during hot days. Panting and drinking water helps cool them, but if they only have overheated air to breathe, dogs can suffer brain and organ damage after just 15 minutes. Short-nosed breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, young pets, old pets and pets with weight, respiratory, cardiovascular or other health problems are especially susceptible to heat-related stress.

If you are going out, bring plenty of water along -- for you and your dog. If the dog is staying home, leave a little air conditioning on for him, and make sure when he is outside, he has a good supply of water and a shaded area.

Try to take your dog out to play in the cool of early morning or evening. And keep in mind that sidewalks and asphalt can really heat up. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that may have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals and be alert for coolant or other automotive fluid leaking from your vehicle. Animals are attracted to the sweet taste, and ingesting just a small amount can be fatal, according to the ASPCA, whose complete list of summertime tips can be found here.

Signs of overheating in pets include excessive panting and drooling, mild weakness and an elevated body temperature. Keep a closer eye on your dog during these steamy days of summer.

[Source: baltimoresun.com]