Regardless of your opinion of weather forecasters, the National Weather Service got this one right. The day that could be the hottest day of 2014 is Heat Safety Awareness Day. You can follow that link to a lot of great information about heat, how it affects you, and what advisories and warnings the NWS issues. Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer, too. You probably have outdoor plans for the holiday weekend. If you are including your pets in those plans, I have some suggestions to keep the weekend enjoyable for everyone.
It’s important for you to take care of yourself on a hot day because if you begin to succumb to heat when you are walking your dog, you are putting your dog in jeopardy. Many of these things involve common sense. You shouldn’t take your dog on extended walks during the hottest times of the day. Not only can the sun get to them, but the hot asphalt can damage their paws. Try and stay on grass or concrete sidewalks. Of course, grass can be dangerous if it’s been treated with fertilizer or pesticide. If you are lucky enough to have a shady trail available to you, great. You shouldn’t be running during the hottest part of the day, but you want to run then, don’t take the dog. I’m sure you know that dogs cool off by panting because they don’t sweat. When they are breathing hard because they’re tired, it’s even harder for them to cool off. Other than that your dog is pretty much like you and it needs a lot of water. Portable bowls are available that can fold up in your pocket or attach to your belt. You can share a bottle of water this way.
I hope I don’t have to tell you not to leave your pet in the car, but I took this picture in early September last year, on a very warm day. The NWS has some great information about how quickly temperatures can rise in a parked car. You can’t do it, even for a short time. Another important thing to realize is that breeds with pug faces, bulldogs, pugs, etc. are even more susceptible for heatstroke and even in moderate temperatures.
Okay, you’re following directions; you’ve moved the long walks to the cooler times of day, you’re getting your dog plenty of water, but being out in hot temperatures is unavoidable. How will you know if it’s getting heatstroke? The most obvious symptom is uncontrollable panting. It may also start to foam at the mouth, become agitated or lethargic and even vomit. First Aid for heatstroke in your pet is to reduce its body temperature. Typically the first thing you do when performing first aid on a dog is to muzzle it, so it won’t bite you. However, when a dog is muzzled, he can’t pant, so only use that as a last resort. Ideally you want to give it cool water to drink, spray it with a hose, and get it in a wading pool or something. You don’t want the water to be too cold, because it could shock the system. You can also wrap it in a cool, wet sheet or towel. You should get it to your vet as soon as possible.
This doesn’t have anything to do with the temperature, but dogs can get sunburned. White skinned dogs or dogs with thinning hair are most susceptible to sunburn. Keep these dogs under cover.
One of the great things about owning a dog is being outside with it in the nice weather. Just be aware of the conditions, use common sense and keep a close eye on your pet and you won’t have your afternoon ruined by an emergency trip to the vet.
Fetch! Pet Care provides pet sitting, dog walking and cat care services for Roswell, East Cobb, Marietta and Woodstock, GA. You can see the happy pets by following us on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/fetchnwatlanta/