The temperature has reached above 90 degrees 22 out of the 30 days of June, and all but two days so far in July. In fact, weather forecasts make it likely that for at least the next two weeks, the mercury won’t drop below 90.
Miserable enough for humans, who can slip into air conditioned buildings.
Animals, particularly dogs and cats, don’t have that luxury unless their owners allow them inside. For those whose pets remain outside even in the midst of a heat wave, there are tips that can help keep animals, particularly dogs, healthy.
Outside dogs need access to shade cast by buildings, bushes or trees.
“If [owners] can’t keep them inside, which is what I recommend, they should have a shaded area with a shelter and plenty of fresh cool water,” said Teri Key-Hooson, Director, Newton County Animal Control
According to Karen Key, administrative technician with Keep Newton County Beautiful, a dog house is not shade. “It’s shelter and it holds in heat.”
Key said it was a law in Newton County that dogs cannot be out in the hot sun without shade. “Call animal control and you tell them what you saw,” she said. “They’ll go out and correct the situation.”
Key-Hooson said she wouldn’t sit outside in 100-degree heat, even in the shade. “I wouldn’t make my animal do it, either.”
She recommends keeping them inside in a house or a well-ventilated, even air conditioned garage.
Provide fresh water at all times; don’t leave the same water out there.
“[Owners] need to keep plenty of water for their pets,” said Betty Bellairs, chair of the Newton County Humane Society.
Key agrees “Give the animal cool, clean, fresh water,” she said. “Restrict exercise when temperatures are high. Many dogs enjoy a swim – what I did is I bought a baby pool for my dogs”
Some dogs enjoy running through sprinklers to cool down, she said.
Prevent flea and tick bites
“Since the fleas and ticks are so bad in the summer, [pet owners] really need to do something to prevent the animal from being bitten by fleas and ticks.”
The blood-sucking insects carry disease, she said, which can cause a pet to scratch themselves, which, in turn, can lead to complications.
Don’t leave pets in the car with the windows rolled up.
On a 75-degree day, a car can heat up to 100-degrees in 10 minutes if the windows are rolled up, Key said. “Humidity in Georgia is so bad and it’s a huge factor in the car heating up quickly. Be on the safe side and leave them at home.”
“If you see a dog in a car with the windows roll up in this heat, please call 911 or local Animal Control. (770) 786-9514,” she said.
Don’t let pets linger on hot surfaces
When it’s hot enough to fry an egg on a sidewalk, it’s too hot for a dog to walk on the concrete or asphalt surfaces.
“I see people out walking their dogs and I think their dog must be in agony,” Key said. “You can really burn paws very badly [on concrete or asphalt].”
It’s also possible for some dogs, those with white or thin fur, to get sunburned, Key said. On the other hand, she said, dark fur attracts heat so owners should be aware of that if they own dark-furred animals.
Symptoms of overheating
Like humans, pets, particularly dogs, are susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
“Dogs do not have ability to sweat and panting can’t fully cool a dog down,” Key said.
Dogs “can go comatose very quickly, especially in a car,” said Key-Hooson. Cats, too, can suffer from hot weather, though “I don’t think we’ve ever had to treat a cat for heat exhaustion. They tend to find a cool spot and they run a higher temperature than a dog. That means they tolerate heat a little better [than dogs].”
Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include:
• Extreme panting
• Bright red tongue
• Sticky salvia
• Light red or pale gums
Sometimes, Key said, dogs can have diarrhea in hot weather. She recommends cooking some white rice for the pet and feeding it to them, gradually mixing in the pet’s regular food.
If a pet is showing symptoms of heat exhaustion, do not dump cold water over the animal. Instead, Key-Hooson said, start by applying cool water to the animal’s paws, moving slowly up the body.
If symptoms do not begin to recede, it is recommended to take the animal to a veterinarian. East Metro Animal Emergency Clinic in Covington is open for emergencies Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., and from 6 p.m. on Friday through 8 a.m. on Monday.
Most often, it’s non-owners who call Animal Control to report an animal suffering heat exhaustion. “In summer months, we probably have two to three calls a month,” Keys-Hooson said. “We go out immediately, if the owner is home, we make them take it to the vet; if they’re not, we take it to the vet.”