Humans aren't only ones suffering in heat


That summer heat sure gets under a person's skin. But what about under the fur?

Pets, especially dogs, who live outside get very hot and need shade just as much as their owners. Dogs can only cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paw pads. Heat strokes can come on quickly and result in brain damage or death.

"The most important thing don't leave dogs in a car with windows only partially open," Ron Kruczek, a veterinarian with High Country Veterinarian Clinic, said. In a car, like in the yard, "dogs should always have shade."

Kruczek suggests dog owners keep the windows completely rolled down to allow adequate ventilation and cool-off power. If owners are worried the dog will jump from the vehicle, purchase a chain-link carry-kennel, and just keep the windows open.

And if you don't have a kennel and can't keep the windows all the way down, "there is good all around-ventilation in the shade. Park in the shade," Kruczek suggests.

As far as the yard, Kruczek uses a "table" kennel method. Dogs are able to climb atop the wood and be in the sun or crawl below for shade. In the summer his dog house has three open sides of ventilation. In the winter, he has one side open.

Kruczek can't stress the importance of water enough.

"Make sure they have drinking water all the time," he said. He chains up the water dishes to the kennel so the dogs will not knock it over.

Doghouses may keep Fido dry and out of the sun, but it will not give him relief from the heat. Doghouses can act like an oven as they trap air inside. Temperatures are 10 degrees higher inside a doghouse in comparison to the regular temperatures.

Shade in the yard is key to keeping a dog cool in a kennel. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), sources of shade are shadows cast by large buildings or, even better, trees which provide additional cool releasing moisture from their leaves. PETA says neighborhoods with lots of trees can have temperatures as much as 12 degrees lower than treeless areas.

Dogs who spend the day outside should always have access to shade and water. It's important of allow freedom of movement, since the shade moves throughout the day; a dog chained in a shady spot in the morning might be trapped in the sun by the afternoon.

"Every summer we hear about tragedies that could have been prevented," Amy Rhodes, PETA cruelty caseworker, said. "Many people don't realize how quickly animals left in a hot car or outside without shade or water can succumb to the heat."

Heat stroke on a dog is serious business. Symptoms of a stroke include restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting or lack of coordination.

If these symptoms appear, Kruczek recommends using a rectal thermometer for a final check.

Dogs' temperatures can go up to 102.5 degrees when they are healthy. Anything higher than that, the dog should be rushed to a vet. If a vet is a ways away, their body temperatures can be lowered by providing water to drink, applying a cold towel or ice pack to the head, neck and chest, or immersing the dog in tepid (not cold) water.

The cool-down process should be gradual.

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