June has barely arrived, and Hope Mills and Fayetteville have already experienced temperatures over 100 degrees. That has veterinarians like Dr. Kent Dean of Southern Oaks Animal Hospital in Hope Mills concerned about heat dangers for outdoor pets.
“Over the summer we’ll see from five to 10 heat strokes,’’ Dean said. Normally, those occur in older and heavier dogs, but as hot as it’s been already, Dean thinks all pet owners need to take precautions to make sure their animals are safe from the heat.
Most of the preparations involve common sense, like making sure the dogs have access to shade and fresh water to drink when outside. When the thermometer reaches 100 degrees or more, Dean said it’s best to bring the animals inside to make sure they stay cool.
Another precaution to keep them from getting injured is to be careful where and at what time of day the dogs get out for a walk. “We see people walking dogs on asphalt,’’ Dean said. “It will burn the pads on their feet. If it were me, I’d walk my dog early in the morning or late in the evening instead of at midday.’’
One of the biggest mistakes a dog owner can make is leaving their dog inside a closed car when making a quick stop while out shopping or running errands. Dean said that’s a terrible idea, even when it appears to be a reasonable outdoor temperature as low as 80 degrees. “Even when it’s 80 degrees, it can get pretty hot in a car,’’ Dean said. “A lot of people can get in trouble for that.’’
North Carolina law prohibits confining a dog, cat or other small animal in a motor vehicle where its health could be endangered by temperature or lack of food.
If a dog is exposed to excessive heat for too long a period of time, Dean said it’s critical to get the animal’s temperature down as quickly as possible. If the animal can’t be immediately transported to an emergency clinic, one possible aid would be to put the animal in a child’s wading pool filled with cool water.
Dean said symptoms of heat illness in dogs include passing out, vomiting and diarrhea. Too much exposure to excessive heat can cause neurological problems that the dogs won’t be able to recover from.
If possible, the best remedy is to transport the dog to an emergency animal clinic so it can have intravenous fluids administered to both lower the temperature and rehydrate them.
Dean also suggested some dogs with medical issues need to be checked out before hot weather arrives. “If they have any kind of heart issues or respiratory issues, they need to be extra careful,’’
Dean said. “They get to where they are breathing too hard or can’t breathe. They start panting and the temperature starts to rise.’’ Dean said when he conducts annual vaccinations he gives dogs a full physical to check for those problems. He suggests that all dogs more than 7 years old should have blood chemistry work done to see if there are any underlying problems with their kidney, liver or heart that the owner needs to be aware of.
For those with additional questions about heat safety for dogs, or any other concerns, Dean’s office can be reached by calling 910-424-3011 or visiting www.southernoaksanimalhospital.com. The Facebook page is Southern Oaks Animal Hospital.