How to keep summer’s temperatures from taking toll on pets

Rocko the Pit Bull stays cool on a hot day by laying in a baby pool.

Rocko the Pit Bull stays cool on a hot day by laying in a baby pool.

High temperatures are hard enough on people, and they’re even harder on their furry friends.

Douglas County Animal Care Assistant Tiffany Dubois offered tips on how to keep pets cool in the summer heat.

“If it’s really going to be hot, if possible, keep them inside especially older dogs because the older they are the more susceptible they are to heat,” she said. “They’re pretty much like people.”

She also recommended if the dog or cat is inside, leave the air conditioning on. If the pet is left outside, be sure to give it plenty of shade and water.

“If you can, put their water in the shade,” she said. “Put mister hoses up in the patio to cool the shade.”

Dubois also warned not to add ice to an already overheated pet’s water. Ice can put them into shock.

Taking dogs for walks in the morning and late evening are also recommended as the best times to avoid burning their paws on the asphalt.

“I’ve seen third-degree burns on a dog’s paws from hot asphalt, so try and keep them on the grass,” she said. “They don’t want to be out in the heat either.”

Limiting the amount of physical activity in the heat is also a good idea.

“If it’s 95 degrees out, I wouldn’t throw a ball to them or a Frisbee or go running,” she said. “They are susceptible to heat stroke.”

Animal Services Officer Liz Begovich said she goes on two calls a day this time of year for animals left in unattended vehicles.

“Once it gets hotter there’s a lot more calls that come in,” she said. “If it looks like it needs to be taken out of the car, we take it out of the car anyway we can.”

Begovich said temperatures inside a car, even with the windows cracked, are at least 20 degrees hotter than the outside air.

“Seventy-five degrees is not extreme, but it can get extreme inside the car,” she said. “They don’t sweat, so they can’t regulate their temperature like we can. A lot of people don’t know that.”

Begovich also recommended keeping water in the vehicle for the pet even on a short trip.

“It takes less than five minutes for a car to get heated,” she said. “I’d rather educate people and let them know pets don’t tolerate heat like we do.”

In her 10 years with Douglas County Animal Services, Begovich has had to rescue many pets left in vehicles.

A 2012 call involving a pitbull puppy that was left inside a 114-degree car in the Topsy Lane Walmart parking lot stood out in her mind.

“It was panting really hard and couldn’t get up,” she said. “There was no water provided for the dog. It was overheated.”

Sheriff’s deputies unlocked the vehicle, and Begovich quickly cooled the puppy down by pouring cool water over it.

The dog’s owner was cited.

“He said he would never bring his dog in the car again in the heat,” Begovich said. “He was very apologetic. The dog was OK in the end. I think the owner learned his lesson.”

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