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Heat Stroke and your Pets
Heat Stroke and your Pets Because dogs don’t sweat, except for some from their paw pads; they don’t cool as efficiently as people do, and they are more susceptible to heat stroke.

So, you figure you are running into the store for only 15 minutes. You leave Fido in the car; and after all, you have cracked open all four windows and it is only 80 degrees outside. No big deal? Check out a thermometer. In 15 minutes, that car heats up to over 115 degrees (according to a Stanford University study).

If you see a dog closed up in a hot car, take action. In many places, the law is on your side.You might save a life. “Because dogs don’t sweat, except for some from their paw pads; they don’t cool as efficiently as people do, and they are more susceptible to heat stroke,” says Dr. Gene Mueller, president of the Anti Cruelty Society in Chicago. There is no one agency that keeps track of how often dogs die in hot cars. “But clearly it happens too often, according to Dr. Louise Murray, director of medicine at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), NY. “ I mean normal adult humans wouldn’t just sit and boil in a car, they would get out. However, dogs do not have a choice if the doors are closed. Sadly, these cases of fatal heat stroke are preventable – it shouldn’t happen.” If you see a dog closed up in a hot car, take action. In many places, the law is on your side. No matter Mueller says, “If you can’t quickly locate the driver – perhaps by poking into a store a car is parked in front of – call the police. Yes, I’d make a big deal about it; you might save a life.”

Cats are prone to summertime hazards as well. Where’s Sheriff Andy Taylor when you need him? In most places, if you phone the local sheriff or fire department to fetch a cat that’s up in a tree, you’ll only hear a bemused operator ask, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding?’ If you do manage to convince emergency personnel to respond, you’ll likely be charged a fee.

Be patient. Veterinary clinics rarely report treating cats that have fallen from trees. Emergency rooms, however, do treat people who have fallen trying to rescue feline friends. Entice kitty with a can of tuna left at lower branches or at the base of the tree; walk away, and wait for hunger to overcome fear.

Being indoors is preferred; for most cats, watching the butterflies and birds go by is better than turning on a ball game on TV. Unfortunately, they may get too “involved,” and jump toward a passing insect or bird while looking though a window with an insecure screen or open window. “Jumping at moving objects is what cats are programmed to do,” says Gail Buchwald, vice president of shelter adoptions at the ASPCA. “They don’t think, ‘Oh I’m up very high I had better not,’ In fact, because they’ve been taken in a carrier, they may have no idea how high they are. “

This event is called high-rise syndrome. Sometimes cats are able to right themselves and land on all fours as they tumble from great heights. When that happens gravity causes their heads to keep going and they typically break their jaws, and might also suffer broken legs. While many cats may tolerate the fall from one flight up without an injury, to believe they would walk away from falling even two or three floors, let alone, 20 floors up is just a fallacy. And many cats pay an ultimate price because of high- rise syndrome.
Mueller’s advice, “There are times when the right thing to do is just leave your dog home in the air conditioning.”

While these words of wisdom are true from Bangor, Maine to Detroit, Michigan, you would figure in Arizona, at least folks would know better. But there have been a number of deaths this year because people have gone hiking with their best friends when it’s just too darn hot. Recently, near Cave Creek, Arizona a man took his 9-year old Rottweiler for a walk. It’s true; they did begin their excursion in the relative cool of the morning. But they continued as the air temperature reached the mid-90’s and the ground temperature was 144 degrees. The hiker returned without his dog. A helicopter did try to dump water on the exhausted canine, but it was too late.

“People need to also consider ground temperature,” says Su Ewing, a pet book author who lived in Mesa, Arizona, and has since moved to New York. To prove her point, at about noon – with an air temperature exceeding 100 degrees – she walked barefoot on the driveway in front of her Mesa home. She lasted five seconds. “If I continued, I would be blistered,” she says.

So no wonder veterinarians treat blistered paw pads. Hot pavement, particularly asphalt can burn paws. “Each year, I treat blistered paws,” says Missouri veterinarian Dr. Stephen Brammeier, “On hot days, it’s best to take dogs out for long walks very early in the morning or well after sundown.”

He adds it’s a good idea to take along a plant mister to spray the dog, as well as drinking water for you and the dog. If you are only outside in your yard, a kiddie pool is great for dogs to wade in. Each year, swimming dogs, like Newfoundland’s Portuguese water dogs, and retrievers die because they can’t exit a real pool. Make sure the dog has a way out, and understands how to do it.

Brammeier says he feels bad for outdoor only dogs. While they can acclimate some to the heat – if it is 90 degrees – that is just plain hot for a dog, period. They require shade, and water (which won’t be tipped over). “I see sometimes the conditions these dogs are in, and I know it’s just on the right side of legal, but it’s not morally right—not by my definition.”

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"Heat Stroke and your Pets"
   authored by:
Steve Dale is certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. He's the author of "My Pet World," a syndicated newspaper column (Tribune Media Service), and he the host of syndicated Steve Dale's Pet World and the Pet Minute...

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