Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Family pets feel the heat, too

Most people are careful to protect themselves and their families from the heat during the summer, but many forget about their four-legged family members. Animal experts agree that if you have an animal, they require special care to avoid heatstroke.

"The most important aid in heatstroke is prevention," said Ginger Guttner, APR Director of Public Relations for the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. "Pay attention to your pet's body language and be mindful when your pet is stressed, tired or acting hot."

According to LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, pets cannot say when they feel hot, but their actions can.

Early signs of heatstroke are rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, a change in gum color (often bright red or pale) and weakness. Vomiting and diarrhea can also be observed. Heat stroke is an absolute emergency.

Reports say a dog's body temperature is normally between 101 degrees and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Dogs do not sweat like people; they regulate their body temperature by panting to expel heat. If the heat is not expelled efficiently, the body temperature rises.

A rise of three degrees in a dog to a temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit is life-threatening, and when the dog's temperature hits 108 degrees Fahrenheit, the result is often fatal.

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine recommends moving your dog to a shaded area, soaking the coat in cool water and taking them to a veterinarian immediately if they exhibit the above signs.

These signs can be followed in minutes or days by collapse, seizure, coma, blood clotting disorders and death. All pets with heatstroke need to be treated immediately and monitored carefully for three to five days.

Guttner says you should make it a priority to ensure your pets have sufficient shelter from the sun, an adequate supply of water to drink and a way to cool off as the heat rises, especially if you plan on leaving them outside during the day.

"Please ensure that your outdoor pets have plenty of shade and water and never leave your pets in a parked car, even with the windows down," Guttner said. "Make sure your pet has a tip-proof bowl, so he can't spill his water bowl while you're not at home. Lastly, do not go jogging or biking with your dog at midday during the summer. Even if you enjoy a jog or bike ride in the heat, it could have disastrous consequences for your dog. Plan walks for the early morning or late evening hours when the temperature is relatively low."

Sandy Chanler of the Webster Humane Association adds more tips for people who have chained or pinned outdoor dogs.

"If a dog can't get to the water, he can't drink it," Chanler said. "You should check their water every day and make sure the water is accessible. Some people don't think about the dog until they get home and the majority of the heat is gone. By then, it could be too late."

Chanler also recommends leaving a small swimming pool full of water for your dog if they will be out all day. That would give the dog something to cool off in if the temperature makes things unbearable.

"I just tell people, 'Think about what you would want if you were a dog and had to be in the heat all day,'" Chanler added. "Just think about your pets."

"All breeds of dogs are at risk for heatstroke. Pets with long hair, black hair and those with 'brachycephalic' or short-faced conformation (i.e., pugs and bull dogs) are especially at risk," Guttner said. "With a few minor precautions, you and your pets can have a safe and happy summer."






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