With a heat wave forecasted to hit Wellesley (and other places) starting this weekend, Animal Control Officer Sue Webb reminds pet owners to take extra precautions with their animals to keep them safe. “Watch your dogs in this heat,” she says. “Walk them early or late, not in the high heat of the day. One dog had to go to the emergency vet when he collapsed on a walk in the woods. Also if you can’t walk on the pavement in your bare feet, don’t expect your dog to want to walk on it either.”
Fortunately, Webb reports that the dog who needed emergency attention has recovered fully, but she says people should take it seriously when they notice their dogs panting more, getting tired, and wanting shorter walks. The loyal nature of dogs can be their biggest downfall. Webb says that when dogs are out on walks , “They try to keep going with their owner. If the owner has a way to go back to the car, they may end up having to carry the dog, which isn’t easy when it is a medium-to-large dog like a Labrador.” (There are 392 Labs registered in Wellesley, making them the most popular dog breed in town.)
What can drive problems
The summer months are not the time to bring your best bud along to ride shotgun during errands. Don’t leave your pet in a car on hot days, ever. Not even for a quick minute, or if you leave the windows open, or even if the car is running and the air conditioner is cranked up. Car temperatures can easily rise to over 100 degrees within ten minutes. After that, they can get up to 120 degrees or higher, fast. Dogs don’t have a chance against that kind of heat. Also, it is illegal in Massachusetts to leave animals in vehicles where they are subject to danger from extreme weather conditions.
A little time at the spa
Let your pet laze around and enjoy this time that’s named just for him — the dog days of summer. During the intense mid-day heat, keep walks to a bare minimum. Better yet, limit walks to early in the morning or after the sun goes down.
If your dog really needs some outside time, park your pooch under a shade tree for a little while, with his water bowl close at hand. Add ice to his water every now and then. If you have one of those elevated pet cots, now’s the time to break it out. They increase air flow on alls sides of your pet, which helps keep him cool. A baby pool filled with cool, refreshing water would complete the spa environment.
Just know that shade doesn’t provide all that much protection, so keep his time outside limited. The best place for your dog during extreme heat is inside.
If your pet is suffering he won’t be subtle about letting you know. Look out for these signs of trouble, which could indicate heatstroke or dehydration:
- heavy panting
- glazed eyes
- rapid heartbeat
- difficulty breathing
- excessive thirst
- lack of coordination
- profuse drooling
- body temperature of over 104 degrees (normal is 101 – 102.5)
- a deep red or purple tongue
- seizure, collapse, or unconsciousness
If these signs present, seek immediate medical attention for your dog.
Let’s all keep Wellesley’s 2,800 registered dogs nice and safe all summer. Heaven knows, they’re worth the extra effort. Who’s a good human friend? You are, that’s who.