Triple temps take tolls on our most vulnerable populations, pets included, and with 100-plus degrees predicted in the Valley of the Sun every day for at least the next three months, the Peoria Times spoke with veterinarian Adrienne Coronado of Vistancia Animal Hospital in Peoria about pet dos and don’ts during our hottest time of the year.
While she advocates for keeping pets indoors during the summer, she said they can be still be kept outside, provided they have adequate water and shade.
“We always recommend bringing the dogs indoors,” she said. “But if they do have to keep their pets outside, then that’s OK, they need to make sure they have plenty and plenty and plenty of water, I just can’t stress that enough, buckets and buckets full of water so that they’re not going to run out. And then also, plenty of shade.”
She said pet owners can take their dogs hiking and for walks in the summer, but to keep in mind that if it’s hot for a human outside, then it’s twice as hot for a dog.
“So if we’re going to go hiking, we want to go really early in the morning like we would before work or really late in the evening after work as the sun is barely coming up or barely coming down. We want to stay away from hot points throughout the day. If we know in Arizona our hottest point of the day is at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, we definitely don’t want to be out taking a hike with our pet at that time.”
She said it’s not a bad idea for people to hike with their pets, but she recommends staying off of pavement.
“Because as pets, we have to remember they’re a lot closer to the ground and that pavement gives off a lot of heat, so that’s going to cause their body temperatures to rise a lot faster than ours, so that’s one thing we have to keep in mind, as well as the burning of the paws.”
The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board implemented a new rule in 2016 prohibiting dogs from city trails when the temperature reaches 100 degrees. Failure to comply could result in a Class 1 misdemeanor, $2,500 fine and jail time. Coronado said she has mixed feelings about the rule because she’s a hiker, but is also in the animal field. Overall, though, she said she agrees with it because sometimes, people just don’t think.
“They don’t really think that animals can be as sensitive as humans are,” she said. “We have to keep in mind, too, that animals don’t sweat, they don’t have any sweat glands, so if they’re not seeing their pet sweating, they don’t think that they’re hot, so I think it’s good to have that law in place, just because we have so many people who don’t think about certain things, and in order to protect the pet, we need to hold the owner accountable to do what’s in the best interest of that pet.”
Booties or shoes work well to protect dogs’ paw pads from burns, but “a lot of pets aren’t going to tolerate them,” Coronado said, adding rubber bands or hair ties should never be used to try to keep the booties on, because they can cut off the pet’s blood circulation.
“We want to make sure that they’re worn loosely, not tight. If a pet is shaking them off, or not tolerating them very well, then they’re just not going to work for our pets and we need to just not use them and then keep our pets off of the pavement without the booties or shoes.”
Signs one’s pet could be suffering from heat-related illness include anxiousness, excessive panting, excessive drooling, abnormal tongue and gum color, restlessness and uneasiness, Coronado said.
“You can kind of tell when your pet’s off, they just can’t sit still and they’re pacing all over the place,” she said, adding that in extreme cases, they could collapse.
“If you see any of those signs, you’d want to contact a veterinarian and take them to the veterinarian right away,” she said. “You can also apply cool water to them to try to help cool them off, but if it’s getting to that extreme, then it’s probably an emergency situation and you just need to get them to a vet.”
In the event an animal is suffering from heat-related illness, a veterinarian will apply alcohol to its paw pads, give it an ice bath, start it on an IV for fluids, keep it in a cool place and then monitor it, Coronado said.
“A lot of times, we do get them before they get too, too bad, because it can lead to stroke,” she said.
Certain breeds are more susceptible to heat-related illness than others, Coronado said.
“We caution more in the flat-faced breeds,” she said. “We think about boxers, pugs, bulldogs, definitely, they have a hard time breathing, especially if they’re outside or if they’re overheating, they can’t get that air intake.”
Those breeds have difficulty breathing because of their anatomy, she said, adding airlines won’t even let them fly because of it.
A lot of pet owners will shave their pets in the summer, thinking it will help keep them cool, but they need to be aware that dogs can get sunburned just like humans can, Coronado said.
“A lot of people think that it’s good to shave their dogs during the summer, and we just want people to keep in mind that dogs can get sunburned, so we don’t necessarily want to shave off all their hair,” she said. “If they have long hair, it’s OK to cut it shorter, we just don’t want to shave them bald.”
Vistancia Animal Hospital has not seen any cases of burned paw pads yet this year, but Coronado said most of her clients are older people who typically wake up early, take their dogs on walks just as the sun is rising and aren’t typically outside during the hottest part of the day.
As for cool treats, Coronado said some people give their dogs plain vanilla ice cream, which is OK in moderation.
“We don’t recommend a large amount,” she said. “Very small amount, not something that we want to do every single day.”
She said the best treats are ice cubes because they provide the dog with water and are nice and cool.
“Ice is an awesome treat for dogs,” she said.