We certainly are in the dog days of August – hottest month of the year (at least so far!). And of course, as Murphy would have predicted, the swamp cooler at the shelter broke down. Nothing like scrambling to set up fans and moving animals to cooler sections of the building in an attempt to keep everyone comfortable!
It seems strange to be giving hot weather advice so late in the year, but I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of the triple digits. When schools re-open we all start thinking about it being Fall, but the thermometer says otherwise so we have to keep our guard up and continue to do proactive things to be sure our animals are safe. It’s so sad to hear about dogs (and children!) dying in hot cars – common sense would tell you not to leave a living being in a metal box on a hot day – but we also know that common sense is actually pretty rare! You used to be able to leave your air conditioning on and lock the doors of your car (if you had two keys) if you were dashing into a store but with the new keyless ignitions you aren’t able to do that anymore – who knew!? So leave your pets comfortably at home when you are running errands. Even if it’s just one stop. For a minute. Leave. Them. Home.
You know the expression “hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk?” People often don’t realize how hot the pavement becomes when the temperatures are high. Blacktop (most parking lots) are even worse since the dark color absorbs even more heat. If you wouldn’t, or can’t, walk barefoot comfortably on the surface don’t ask your dog to! They can burn their pads and that causes incredible pain. Putting booties on may seem like a good idea but the only part of a dog’s body that sweats is the paw pads. Covering them up reduces that function. Not a good idea.
To shave or not to shave – that’s always a question for parents of long-haired breeds. Dogs developed different fur lengths to deal with various weather conditions. Then we started moving dogs around and now you have arctic breeds (Huskies and Malamutes) living in desert regions. So you think you’ll be helping your pup out by shaving him. But the fur also serves to protect the skin from the sun. Stripping off this protection can leave your dog susceptible to sunburn. Please do some research on your breed and talk to a couple of groomers and your veterinarian before you just shave off his coat. Sometimes just a good stripping of the undercoat is enough to keep the dog comfortable and protected.
Good hydration is so important when it’s hot outside – both for you and your pets. The other way a dog cools his body is through panting and they lose a lot of water in the process. Be sure plenty of cool water is always available. Needless to say, I hope, but keep heavy exercise to the early morning before it gets too hot. I cringe every time I see someone riding their bike or jogging with their dog in the early afternoon on a hot day. Heatstroke can be deadly, and if not fatal, can cause brain damage. Why risk it?
Do you take your dog to a river for some cooling water fun? Be aware of blue algae which can be fatal to pets. Don’t let your dogs drink from standing water and check if there have been any warnings for the waterway you are visiting before you let them swim. Such a sad way to lose a pet! Of course, in the ocean a bigger threat is a rip tide. Keep your dogs close to the shore, even if they are strong swimmers.
So many things to be cautious of it can be exhausting just trying to keep our pets safe. What tricks and tips do you have to help your pets manage during the heat? Please share them with us via our Facebook page.
“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home. FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed. 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.