Dr. Jon Redfield of Fredonia Animal Hospital shared helpful advice about how dog owners can help their pets stay safe in the summer heat on Thursday in a press release. Redfield's Practice Manager Sharon B. Redfield said the veterinary hospital has already seen cases of dogs suffering from heat exhaustion.
Dr. Redfield is urging dog owners to take precautions. "With the heat of summer upon us, it is imperative that pet owners take precautions to make sure their pets stay healthy and comfortable."
All pets are susceptible to complications from high heat, Redfield told the OBSERVER, especially the very young, those with medical conditions, and senior pets. Heat exhaustion, or hyperthermia, can be fatal if not treated quickly.
"The best method for keeping your dog cool is to simply allow him or her to stay inside a house with air conditioning. Dogs want to be part of the family and almost always enjoy being inside," Redfield said.
Redfield said dog walks must be kept to the coolest parts of the day: just after dawn (before 8 a.m.) and at dusk (after 7 p.m.) and kept to a minimum just long enough for the dog to go to the bathroom. Sidewalks and asphalt are extremely hot and when exposed to sunlight could be hot enough to damage the dog's paws.
Jogging or other high intensity recreational activities with the family dog is discouraged by Redfield on hot days. "Dogs are loyal to a fault and will stay with their master until their bodies give out. Please don't put your dog in that position," Redfield stated.
A study by the Animal Protection Institute showed the temperature inside a car could be as much as 20 degrees hotter than outside the vehicle. "Of course, never leave your dog in a car without the air conditioning on. Even in relatively mild outdoor temperatures, on a sunny day the environment inside the car can get dangerously hot in just a few minutes," Redfield stated.
Redfield is also urging dog owners not to leave dogs tied to a tree or a post. "A common scenario is for a dog to keep circling the tree, winding the rope shorter and shorter until it is caught close to the tree trunk. As the sun moves across the sky, eventually the dog is in the full sun, and not able to reach its water bowl to try to help keep itself cool. Heat stroke can quickly ensue."
Signs of heat exhaustion include vigorous panting, elevated heart rate, excess salivation - sometimes thickened, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, staggering, gasping, brick-red or purple or blue gums, and lying down and refusing to get up.
Action steps to take for a dog showing symptoms of heat exhaustion were shared by Redfield, who said immediate measures to reduce body temperature are imperative. The dog should be moved to shade or an air conditioned room. Give the dog small doses of cool water or ice cubes to lick, but not to let the dog drink large amounts of water all at once.
Redfield said to rinse the dog off with cool but not cold water, but not to cover the dog with a wet towel as this may prevent heat from escaping the body. He said ice bags can be placed around the head, neck, and chest and to put a fan on the dog if possible. The dog should be seen by a veterinarian.
According to Redfield, a dog's temperature can be taken rectally with a human rectal thermometer. He explained normal dog temperature is 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, and at 104 degrees, action is required, and a dire emergency is present at 106 degrees.
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