June 14th, 2024

Protecting furry friends in the hot dog days of summer

By Al Beeber on July 8, 2021.

Herald file photo - A dog shakes off after playing a game of fetch in the Oldman River.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The excruciating heat of summer is not only difficult for humans but also their four-legged companions, especially dogs.
While temperatures in Lethbridge are not expected to reach the recent highs during the heat dome, in the next 14 days residents here can still expect to see the mercury hit 34C on several days including this Saturday.
Precautions that humans normally take during high heat also need to be applied to their dogs, says the Alberta Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Dan Kobe of the SPCA in Edmonton said Wednesday dogs want to go where their human companions go so owners need to make sure they are safe, as well.
No set rule applies for all dogs, said Kobe, so owners would be advised to talk to a veterinarian about how a specific breed can handle heat.
“If it’s uncomfortable for you, it’s probably uncomfortable for the dog, too,” said Kobe in a telephone interview.
Dogs do need regular exercise but in hot conditions the best time is early morning or late at night when temperatures have cooled, Kobe added.
Dog owners need to keep watch for signs of heat stroke in their companions, signs which include lethargy, vomiting or confusion and the dog acting dazed. Other signs include exaggerated panting, the cessation of panting, rapid or erratic pulse, salivation, an anxious look, weakness and muscle tremors or lack of co-ordination.
Unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat through their skin; they release heat through their paws and noses and rely on panting to cool off, says Blue Cross of the U.K.
Those paws can get burned by walking on hot asphalt, said Kobe, so ideally an owner will walk dogs on grass, Kobe said.
When letting a dog out in the backyard, Kobe said some type of sheltered area to keep the animal out of the direct sun is needed. And filling a kiddie pool can provide dogs with relief.
While some owners will take their dogs to water such as rivers or lakes to cool off, Kobe said people need to be mindful of currents in the former and blue-green algae in the latter.
Blue-green algae can be deadly to dogs, he said.
According to the B.C. SPCA website, overweight dogs are more likely to develop illness due to heat because of the increased insulation of fat cells and the heat they generate from exercise.
Some dogs have a double coat of fur which will enhance the impact of heat. Those breeds include golden retrievers, shepherds, huskies and labradors.
Elderly dogs are more sensitive to temperatures, says the SPCA. A senior dog is considered one over five years old for large breeds. Smaller dogs aren’t seniors until roughly the age of eight. Puppies can easily over-exert themselves in the heat due to their abundance of energy.
The Alberta SCPA says the inside of a car can reach 51C in as little as 10 minutes on a hot day. Opening windows or parking in the shade won’t reduce the discomfort a dog will feel, says the SPCA.
The SPCA recommends not bringing dogs along for errands if they are going to be left in a vehicle even for a few minutes because their body temperatures rise more quickly due to the fact they don’t sweat.
People who see a dog in distress in a car should call the Alberta SPCA animal distress hotline at 1-800-455-9003.

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