Extreme Heat Dangerous for Pets

July 8, 2008 9:56:56 AM PDT
Many people think dog houses or igloos can keep their pets cool, but even those can top 100 degrees in this type of heat. Here at the Merced County Shelter they make sure the animals have plenty of shade and water. Officers say this is the type of setting outdoor pets need to survive.Every summer Merced County Animal Control Officers see family pets fall victim to the heat.

Kristi Caseri, Animal Control Supervisor: "People will bring their animals in and say I was gone for a little while and when I came in my dog was dead I don't know what happened, and it's pretty obvious they had a heat stroke."

Just last month a dog that was tethered outside a home in Madera County died from apparent heat exposure when temperatures topped one hundred degrees. That's why Valley veterinarians say it's crucial to keep a close eye on pets that are often outdoors.

Dr. Betty Lawson, Merced Veterinary Clinic: "When the temperatures reach the 90s or 100s, we need to keep pets in shaded areas, indoors if possible."

Matt Church keeps his dog Molly inside most of the time, and takes extra precautions when she heads outdoors.

Matt Church, Dog Owner: "They have the shade trees and pools and stuff like that, we have a little pool for her. So she's happy."

Many people also choose to shave long-haired dogs this time of year.

Kristina Hollon, Petsmart Groomer: "Almost 80 percent of our dogs come in here just for the heat."

But sometimes even less fur and more shade and water aren't enough to keep a pet cool in the excessive heat. Dr. Betty Lawson says if you notice symptoms like excessive panting, distress, or anxiety, it's a good idea to take your pets temperature. 103 degrees or higher means it's time to take action.

Dr. Betty Lawson: "You can shave their bellies, put cold water on there, put cold water on their feet to get that temperature down and just get them somewhere cool."

Dr. Lawson says it's also a good idea to sign a medical release form if you leave your pet with anyone else this summer. And animal control officers want to remind everyone that it's not only dangerous, but illegal to leave pets in a hot car.


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