The Herald Bulletin

July 20, 2013

Maleah Stringer: Summer can be harsh on pets

Maleah Stringer
The Herald Bulletin

---- — We all love summer but the heat can be deadly for our pets.

One of my major complaints and concerns involves people who leave their pets in their cars while they shop. I have yet to see a human drop someone off to shop, park in the hot sun, sit in a car with the windows cracked and the air conditioning off until said person comes back. But we expect our pets to do it.

Remember, even though Fluffy might love to ride in the car with the air on or the windows down with the air moving quickly through the car he or she should never be left in closed up cars with the windows cracked while you go in stores or go out to eat.

Cars are like metal ovens and temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees in a closed-up vehicle in 15 minutes. This can kill your pet. So please, leave them home in the cool house. Think about what it would be like to come out thinking Fluffy will be happy to see you only to find your pet either dead or near death because they got too hot. Here are some tips:

1. Keep animals in the air-conditioned house during the hottest hours of the day. When they go outside to do their bathroom duties only leave them out 10-15 minutes, especially if they are not used to being out in extreme heat.

2. Exercise your pet in the early morning or in the evening after the sun has gone down. Let them set their own pace. Animals have more sense than we do about working out when it is to hot. Just because you like to workout in the heat of the day under a broiling sun does not mean your animal does, or should. It can kill them.

3. Use spray bottles to spray the stomach, inner thigh, neck, chest, armpits and bottom of feet.

4. Some dogs like the small, plastic wading pools (around $6-$7). Some will actually lie down in the cool water.

5. Use Pedialite to help prevent dehydration. Most stores carry a generic brand. Gatorade has too much sugar.

6. Ice in the water dish helps keep water cold.

7. Provide plenty of shade for animals who stay outside. And NO, a dog house does not constitute shade. There is no air flow.

8. Make sure your pets have access to fresh cool water at all times.

Signs your pet is overheating:- Excessive panting- Drooling- Body is hot to the touch- Listlessness- Gums are red (not pink)- Vomiting- Seizures

If you need to cool down your pet quickly, put him/her in a bathtub or wading pool, if possible, and pour cool (not cold) water over your pet. Pour the water on the stomach, inner thigh, neck, chest and armpits. (Pouring water over the back doesn't have a cooling affect.) If you are not able to put your pet in a tub, use cold water to wet a towel and put the towel on your pet -- again, be sure to get the underside cooled.

Leave on for a few minutes and then wet again, repeat as necessary. Don't let the towel get dry. Also, drinking Pedialite will get electrolytes back into your pet's system and help prevent dehydration.When you suspect overheating has occurred it is always a good idea to contact your veterinarian. Better safe than sorry.

If you see an animal that looks to be at risk to the heat, such as no shelter, shade or water, call Animal Control at 648-6775. You might try talking to the owner but assess the situation and consider your safety first. Ask if you can give the dog water. Remember, if someone tells you to stay off their property and you don't it's called trespassing. If it gets to this point in order to save the animal call the authorities.

Maleah Stringer is executive director of the Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson. She can be reached at 356-0900 or at maleahstringer@aol.com.