Pets vulnerable during dog days of summer

LEWISTOWN – The dog days of summer are almost here, and pet owners should be attentive to their animals’ hot-weather needs.

Cindy McClellan, co-founder of Rescue Our Furry Friends, said, first and foremost, pets should be left at home when possible.

“Don’t leave them (in the car) at all,” she said.

According to information distributed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it takes 10 minutes for a car’s interior to reach or exceed 100 degrees when the outside temperature is 85 degrees.

“Leave (pets) at home during this extremely hot weather,” McClellan encouraged.

If pets must leave the house, owners should turn on the air conditioning in the car and bring plenty of water, she said.

“If you see a dog in a car, monitor the situation for a minute,” McClellan urged. “Is the car running? Is the AC on? Does the dog look like it’s in distress?”

A pet confined to a car is not in immediate danger, she said. But she encouraged bystanders to call the non-emergency number and have local police look into the situation if the animal seems to be in distress.

Symptoms of heat stress in pets may include stressful breathing or panting, lethargy and colorless gums, McClellan said. The ASPCA website also lists increased heart rate, drooling, mild weakness or collapse, diarrhea, vomiting and elevated body temperature greater then 104 degrees.

McClellan said breeds with flat faces, like Pugs or Pekingese, or heavier coats, like Siberian Huskies, are at greater risk for heat-related illnesses.

If pets are showing signs of heat stress, McClellan said to offer them water and lay a cool, wet towel across their bodies. If their condition doesn’t improve within 10-15 minutes, she said owners should seek veterinary attention for their pet.

Dog owners also should be mindful of hot pavement and walk their pets in the early morning or late evening when grounds are cooler. The ASPCA recommends walking pets on grass or dirt when possible, rather than asphalt or tar. Some pet owners may opt to put booties on their dog’s feet for protection, but McClellan recognized that footwear may not be tolerated by every dog.

Animals that have recently undergone surgery also require special care, she said. Any area of the body that has been shaved for an incision or IV should be covered with sunscreen before the pet goes outside.

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