Keep your pets safe from this heat

Published 7:20 pm Wednesday, July 4, 2018

It’s getting hotter and hotter now that we’re in the thick of summer and staying cool and hydrated is as important as its always been, especially for everybody’s pets.

Dogs need as much help as possible to stay cool this summer and newspapers across Virginia have been reporting on advice from local animal experts for heat-related illnesses that could send these dogs to the animal hospital.

Dr. Katrin Ventocilla, a veterinarian at Shirlington Animal Hospital in Arlington, said to keep an eye out for excessive panting, drooling and any behavior that seems dizzy or lethargic. All of these are signs of “life-threatening” heat stroke, she told ABC7.

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She said symptoms are rapid when temperatures are 90-plus degrees and recommended limiting outdoor exercise and activities. Any walk should be capped at 10 minutes, she said.

The Martinsville Bulletin reported on a warning issued by the SPCA on June 20. The state ordinance quantifies that 87-degrees outdoors is too hot for pets but that figure is not meant to be exact.

“If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pets,” Nicole Harris, executive director of the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA, said in the report.

Harris suggested letting indoor pets out either in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid peak-heat around noon. She also recommended to consistently check how much water is left out for your pets. Bowls also need to be cleaned regularly because the chance of algae growth increases with temperatures.

If you’re filling a water bowl with a hose, be sure to check the water temperature first, as described in the report.

“Last summer a local pet owner tried to cool a canine by spraying the dog with water from the hose,” according to the report. “Unfortunately, the owner did not check the water’s temperature beforehand. The water from the hose was too hot and it burned and blistered the dog.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has more summer concerns to watch out for on its website, including hot asphalt that can overheat your dog’s body.

Lastly, be smart and don’t leave your poor dog in the car during these hot days.

“Dogs and cats cannot perspire and can only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet,” according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website. “Pets left in hot cars even briefly can suffer from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage, and can even die. Even if you’ll be gone ‘just a minute,’ your pet will not be safe while you’re gone.”