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December 09, 2016
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community living

Dog days of summer

By Joseph A. D’Abbraccio, D.V.M.

After the winter we just lived through, many of us have welcomed the warm weather with open arms. However, while humans have the ability to escape the heat and find ways to stay cool, it is important to keep our animals in mind, too. One of the most concerning situations is traveling with your pet. In a matter of just a few minutes the interior temperature of your car can exceed 150ºF, creating extremely dangerous conditions for your dog or cat. While you may think leaving the window open a small amount, or even all the way open may help dodge the heat, this is not be the case. Breeds such as pugs, Boston terriers, boxers, bulldogs and many of the arctic breeds are extremely sensitive to heat, and it can be even less time before they develop the life-threatening condition called heat stroke. If you are bringing farm animals to agriculture shows, be sure that they have plenty of water prior being placed on the trailer. When traveling for longer than six hours, I recommend stopping for a water break and allowing the animals to move around. Be sure that your trailer has plenty of ventilation, and if there are window vents make sure they are in working order. Never presume that everything is functional from last season’s shows. Farm animals such as pigs are highly susceptible to heat stress and shipping compounds that stress.

Are you a runner and have an eager four-legged partner? Be sure to consider how long your run is and the current temperature outside. While it may appear to be a cool 80ºF depending on the time of day, the asphalt can reach up to 150ºF and can easily burn your pets’ paws, even removing their paw pads. This is an extremely painful event and makes it harder for your pet to walk, not to mention the potential for severe feet infections. Try to take walks or runs earlier in the day, as even during the evening hours the asphalt holds heat for a considerable amount of time. If your pet needs to go for a walk, try to walk them on grass or keep the walk to a very short amount of time.

It is very important that your pets have full access to plenty of fresh water at all times throughout the day. For horses, cattle and other farm animals, it is very important to frequently drain and scrub out all water troughs and buckets to prevent algae and bacterial overgrowth. These conditions can become dangerous for your creatures and can result in conditions like diarrhea that worsen dehydration and can become life threatening. For many animals, providing a misting system or fans are great ways to ensure that they stay cool. These can be purchased and set up easily; many can even be set on timers to run during the warmest times of the day.

Quick tips

• Plenty of fresh clean water

• Provide a fan, shaded area, water misting system or all of the above

• Be sure to not leave animals in cars even with the windows open

• Take frequent breaks if animals are traveling to local agriculture shows or otherwise

• Consider the temperature of asphalt and concrete

If you suspect that your dog, cat, horse, pig, bird, etc. is suffering from heat stroke or other heat-related illness, please be sure to contact your veterinarian or emergency service as soon a possible.

[Dr. Joseph A. D’Abbraccio, D.V.M. can be reached via email at jdabbracciodvm@icloud.com]

Catskill Veterinary Services, PLLC