Name: Shauna Farnell
Subhed: Dog owners should avoid hot cars and long doses of sun for pet
Art: Karin – cutline should be on photo
SUMMIT COUNTY – Dog owners in and out of Summit County are grateful this time of year for the lower temperatures in the High Country, but even though the air might be cooler, your dog still is subject to heat exhaustion and suffocation.
“In the heat, a dog could die within 15-20 minutes if left in the car with the windows up,” said Denisa Court, DVM, of Animal Hospital of the High Country. “Ideally, it’s better to not leave them in the car at all when it’s warm out.”
Temperatures go up quickly in an enclosed vehicle, a fact people realize when they return to a parked car to find melted candy bars and hot, stale air. And, as veterinarians point out, in many ways, dogs are not as equipped as are humans are to fend off heat, whether in the car or on a walk.
“Dogs don’t sweat, that’s one of the biggest things,” Court said. “The only way they can dissipate heat is by panting. We can perspire through our skin as a natural cooling. Dogs can’t do that. They can release heat somewhat through their foot pads, but it’s not that much.”
As with many health concerns, there are many pet-human crossovers in recommendations to deal with heat.
“Even on a cool day, if it is very sunny and your dog is working hard, (it) can get overheated,” said a canine health advisor on http://www.coyotecom.com. “Remember, dogs have a body temperature that is higher than yours. Dogs get hot very quickly, long before you will. If you would be stifled in your truck when wearing a sweater or coat, it’s too hot for your dog.”
Some breeds are more inclined to overheat than others. Since panting is the primary means by which dogs cool themselves, breeds with short snouts, such as bulldogs and pugs, have a tougher time of it. Also, according to vets, breeds such as Labrador retrievers are predisposed to airway problems such as laryngeal paralysis as they get older, and dog owners should beware of the symptoms of heat stroke and exhaustion, which include rapid panting, a bright red tongue, or red mucus membranes.
Even before dogs begin to exhibit these symptoms, owners should make sure their dogs always have plenty of water as well as shade and fresh air available.
“If you have to leave them in the car, you should find a spot in the shade and definitely have the windows down,” Court said. “I’ll leave all my windows halfway down if I leave my dog even for a little while. You should check on them at least hourly, but if you can, find some other place to keep them if it’s hot out.”
Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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