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Garza County News

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Dr. Kerry Wink

Pop Quiz - Pets and Hot Weather

Published April 28, 2012 @ midnight

Whew!  Did I miss spring? Was there a memo notifying we’d jump right into summer already?  If so, I missed it.  105 degrees and it’s only April!  Normally, I start advising hot weather tips around the end of May or June, but with our wonderful, unexpected West Texas weather better sooner than later.    With hot temperatures comes an endless reminder of protecting your pets from sun, heat, & dehydration.   Pets can have the same reaction to heat as us humans.  They can become dehydrated quickly, get sunburned which can result in skin cancer, or suffer from heat stroke.  Your pet’s breed, age, & color play an important factor in the summer heat.  I won’t bore you with repeating any of these standard warnings, but rather give you some information and suggestions regarding animals and weather which may be new or unknown to you.  So are you ready for a pop quiz?

Pop quiz #1….Why are animals with ‘flat faces’ (such as Pugs or English Bulldogs) more susceptible to heat stroke?  Answer…They cannot pant as effectively due to their short nose and elongated soft pallet prolonging their speed of cooling down.  Darker colored dogs, puppies & senior dogs, and those with cardiovascular problems are also more vulnerable to heat.

Pop quiz #2…. Does shaving a dog’s coat during summer help keep them cooler?  Answer…. While this is very effective with grooming & coat maintenance, this is an often misunderstood concept.  Did you know a dog’s fur not only keeps your dog warm in the winter, but also protects your pet from heat in the summer? 
Wait, wait...I can hear one of you saying “You mean to tell me it’s 104 outside and my  Great Pyrenees isn’t suffocating under his 100 pounds of fur? That doesn’t make sense!”  The canine coat is designed to act as insulator against outside elements.  In cold temperatures fur holds heat near to the body, and when it’s hot outside the fur will act as a shield blocking out the heat.  It is an all-in-one micro-environment!  Another bonus to your dog’s coat is protection from ultraviolet radiation…aka, sunburn.  Pets can suffer sunburns which can lead to skin cancer just like in us humans.

Pop quiz #3….How can you tell if your pet is sweating?  Answer…Both cat & dogs have sweat glands located in the pads of their feet. If your pet leaves moist paw prints while walking, that is a sign of sweating.  Let’s put ourselves in their shoes, er…’paws’ for a moment…  What would you do if your only way of releasing heat was through your feet?  Would you be out walking on a hot sidewalk or worse, asphalt?   A good rule of thumb, if concrete, asphalt, or any surface your pet walks on burns your own hand to touch, think what it does to your pet’s feet and body temperature. Heat stroke in animals is just as serious as with humans and can result in death if not treated promptly.

Let’s not forget our large animal friends.  Horses drink an average of 12-15 gallons per day per horse.  However, this doubles up to 20-25 gallons per horse on a hot summer day.  Horses that don’t drink enough water may require salt added to their diet either by feed or block supplements to increase water consumption.  Side effects of dehydration can occur within 24 hours of lack of water.  Colic is the most often result of dehydration in horses due to impaction.

I’ll end by saying there are too many important facts out there regarding pets and hot weather to list in one newspaper article.  Using common sense such as supplying cool, fresh water and having a shady area available can prevent a major emergency and even death.  If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke or other hot weather related issue, give us a call immediately, (806) 495-3726.  You can also submit topic suggestions, or questions you would like to see addressed, by calling the clinic, email at gcah@windstream.net, or via our facebook page www.facebook.com/GarzaCountyAnimalHospital.

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