Volunteers work to protect pets during summer
Friday, July 09, 2010
With the stifling summer temperatures, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are not just a concern for residents but for pets as well.
“They have no way to sweat like we do,” Animal Care Network Manager Pam Porteous said.
The Animal Care Network is an outreach program for outdoor pets in the cities of Pontiac and Inkster and is especially active in the cold winter months and on hot days of the summer season.
Porteous and several volunteers participate in a “welfare and water” check throughout the two cities every weekend from about 8 a.m. until noon.
The team, consisting of three to four volunteers, drives together to visit homes that have contacted the group. The team also stops to help animals that they can tell, just by passing by, are visibly in need.
Porteous said that during this summer season, 11 dogs have already died from heat stroke in Pontiac and Inkster.
The team carries food for cats and dogs, several water jugs, as well as collars and leashes.
Porteous also travels solo weekdays to help any outdoor animals in need. She encourages all pet owners to ensure their outdoor pets have adequate shade and water, and she educates residents on the risks of heat stroke for their animals.
Some of the symptoms of heat stroke include excessive panting, disorientation such as staggering and stumbling, rapid breathing and dizziness.
“Their body temperatures (rise) so fast,” Porteous said, “it’s so easy to remedy with shade and water.”
The Animal Care Network advises that if someone should come across a pet that seems to be experiencing symptoms of heat stroke, it is imperative to contact a veterinarian immediately.
To prevent heat stroke or heat exhaustion from occurring, “provide your animal with daily fresh water and shade,” Porteous said, “and check on the animal often.”
She said a simple way to help cool a pet is to fill a kid’s pool with cold water to allow the outdoor animal to jump in at its convenience.
Since there has not been a heavy amount of rain this summer, Porteous said these outdoor pets don’t even have puddles to drink from or cool down in, so the kid pool will suffice.
She also suggests that animal owners refrain from taking their pets on walks on such hot days.
The Michigan Humane Society encourages all pet owners to never leave a pet in a vehicle during summer as the “air inside of a car heats up very quickly,” according to their “Hot Weather” flier.
“On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside your car — with the windows slightly opened — will reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes.”
Since pets pant instead of perspiring to cool their bodies, the heated vehicle air counteracts the “evaporation that usually occurs during panting,” causing the animal’s body temperature to rise rapidly.
The Michigan Humane Society also advises owners to immerse the pet in cool water and call the pet’s veterinarian if the pet should become overheated.
For assistance or more information about the effects of heat on outdoor pets, call the Animal Care Network at 248-678-2756 or the Michigan Humane Society at 248-283-1000.
FYI – The Michigan Humane Society strongly recommends that companion animals live indoors with the rest of the family, year-round. In the summer, this will help prevent heat-related illness and reduce exposure to mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and internal parasites.
— Bring animals inside during hot weather. Pets should not be left outside in very warm, humid conditions for extended periods, even in the shade.
— Ensure that pets have access to plenty of fresh, cool water at all times – indoors and out. Hydration is critical to help your pet regulate his body temperature.
— Avoid chaining or tethering a dog outside. He/she may get twisted and become unable to reach shade or water, or his water dish may get knocked over.
— In homes without air conditioning, use fans to keep air circulating or keep your pet in a cooler area of the house, such as the basement, during the hottest part of the day.
— Avoid vigorously exercising pets during the heat of the day. Instead, take walks in the early morning or evening hours. Avoid hot concrete or asphalt surfaces as they may cause damage or discomfort to the animal’s paw pads.
— Keep in mind that old, young and short-nosed animals are especially susceptible to heatstroke. However, it is a concern for all pets during hot weather.
— If you open windows in your home, be sure the screens are secure to prevent cats or other pets from falling out.
— Never leave pets unattended around swimming pools, to help prevent accidents.