Dog days of summer not necessarily dog's best friend

Dog days of summer not necessarily dog’s best

The Issue: Extreme heat can be fatal for pets.

Our View: With a little knowledge and effort, summer can be as enjoyable for pets as it is for the rest of the family.

CARLINVILLE (July 12, 2018) – When people speak of the “dog days of summer,” they are typically referring to the hottest days of the year. While that very well may be true, the phrase refers to the 40 days between July 3 and August 11 that coincide with the rising of Sirius, otherwise known as the Dog Star. Although Sirius’ rise doesn’t really have anything to do with the weather, other than it can occur during the hottest time of the year, it’s a good reminder that our pets need special attention during hot weather.

There are many things to remember when it comes to keeping pets healthy and safe during hot weather. There are the important basics like making sure they have clean, fresh water, as well as a shady place to rest. It doesn’t talk long for a water bowl to get dusty and nasty, so it’s important to change the water rather than simply topping off the bowl.

In an effort to keep them hydrated, pets shouldn’t be over exercised and should be brought indoors in extreme heat.

It’s helpful to know the symptoms of overheating in pets, which include difficulty breathing, increased heart or respiratory rates, drooling, mild weakness or even collapse. Overheated pets may suffer seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, along with elevated body temperatures over 104 degrees.

Pets with flat faces, such as pugs or Persian cats, are more likely to suffer heat strokes because they can pant effectively enough to cool themselves. These breeds, along with pets that are older, overweight or those with heart or lung conditions should be kept in an air-conditioned space as much as possible.

As the day heats up, so do ground temperatures, especially asphalt. Make sure your pets don’t spend too much time on hot surfaces. Paw pads can burn and being close to such hot surfaces can make the animal’s body heat up more quickly.

During hot weather, many pet owners like to clip their pets’ fur shorter than usual. While this seems like a good idea, one should consider that the pet’s coat protects them overheating and sunburn.

Of course, it’s deadly for pets to be left in a hot vehicle, even with the windows cracked. In fact, doing so is illegal in several states, including Illinois. Vehicles heat up quickly and it doesn’t take long for the effects to be fatal. Leave the pet at home or take it with you whenever you exit the vehicle.

Just about everyone knows that heartworms are dangerous to dogs, cats and other mammals. What many people don’t understand is that there’s only one way a pet can contract heartworms: mosquitoes.

That’s right. Heartworms don’t come from the weird things pets find to eat in the yard. They aren’t contracted from other dogs and cats. The condition is contracted from the bite of an infectious mosquito.

Heartworms can be lethal if left untreated. That said, it’s much easier and less costly to prevent the condition than to treat it. There are monthly pills, topicals and injections that will prevent the disease.

While the early stages of the disease aren’t very symptomatic, as more and more worms develop and begin to crowd the heart and lung, dogs will develop a cough and won’t be able to exercise as much. Eventually, the pet will develop abnormal lung sounds and may pass out from the loss of blood to the brain.

Prevention is definitely the better option for both owners and pets.