Hot Weather Hazards
by Delisa Renideo

(Seventh article)

These warm sunny days of summer have me outdoors as much as possible, and my two dogs love to accompany me wherever I go. If I am taking a hike, they are in luck. But many days I have to look into their forlorn faces and tell them the disappointing news, “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to stay home this time.” Their mournful eyes plead with me to take them, but I cannot take the risk of exposing them to the excessive heat that builds up in a closed car when I have stops to make.
Have you noticed how hot your car gets when sitting in the sun for even a few minutes? It can get over 100 degrees in a short time. I wouldn’t want to be left sitting in the hot car while I waited for someone to shop! And yet, I often see dogs left in cars while their guardians are inside nice, cool stores. Even with the windows rolled down an inch or two, the heat inside the car builds up rapidly. Not only will your dog feel uncomfortable, but her body temperature can build up dangerously, leading to heat exhaustion and potentially death.
But what if you have a pick-up so your dog can ride in the back? Wouldn’t that be better? No, because that leads to other dangers. If your dog is loose in the back of an open pick-up, he can lose his balance when you make a sudden start or stop. If he falls out of the pick-up, he may suffer broken bones, head injury, or be run over by another car. If he is tied in the pick-up, he may fall out and be dragged along the highway without you even realizing he has fallen out. This obviously results in serious injury or even death by strangulation. If you want to take your dog in the back of a pick-up, the only really safe way to do so is to put him in an airline-type carrier that is tied to the truck. This will also allow him some shade. And while you’re at it, a bowl of water would be a big help.

Dogs don’t perspire all over like we do. They can only perspire through the pads of their feet. They also release some heat through their nose and mouth while breathing. But overheating is a real hazard for dogs, so we need to be sure to offer them shade, plenty of cool water, and ventilation. Even when you leave your dog at home, you need to be sure she has a cool shady place to rest.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy panting, gasping for air, weaving when walking because of dizziness, lying down and being unable to get up, and unconsciousness. If you notice your dog getting too hot, there are some things you can do to help her cool down. You can wrap an ice pack in a towel and place it on her abdomen or the inside of her thighs. If you don’t have an ice pack, a plastic drink bottle filled with cold water will help. Your dog’s ears have good blood supply and lots of surface area, so you can put cool cloths on her ears to help cool her body temperature. And be sure to offer her plenty of cool water.
If you are traveling with your dog and must leave her in the car for a few minutes, you can make a cool bed by covering an ice pack with a towel. However, it is safest for your dog to resist those pleading eyes and leave her home on these warm sunny days.

Delisa is a co-founder of Rays of Hope and can be contacted at 373-1526.

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