Archive for Friday, July 14, 1995

HEAT HURTS PETSTOO

July 14, 1995

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A veterinarian reminds pet and animal owners that pets are vulnerable to the heat just as humans are.

When humans are faced with 105-degree temperatures and no shade, they normally have some options: Seek refuge in the air conditioning. Draw a glass of ice water. Turn on a fan.

But pets and other domesticated creatures not blessed with an opposable thumb sometimes need help keeping cool in the summer heat.

"It's terrible. They're all susceptible to heat, just like us," said Phillip Metsker, who operates a farm with about 4,000 pigs near Lone Star Lake.

Animals keep cool much the same way humans do, said Dr. John Bradley, a veterinarian at the Bradley Animal Hospital, 935 E. 23rd St.

First, they need plenty of water, changed often to keep it fresh. It's even OK to put ice cubes in the water, Bradley said.

Animals also need some way to protect themselves from the sun.

"Air circulation is really important, especially if animals are kept in confined areas," Bradley said. "If the pets are outdoors, shade is critical."

Whether a pet should be kept indoors depends on what the pet is used to, Bradley said. If a pet is normally kept outdoors, it should be OK outside.

But if a dog is panting or drooling profusely, or fails to respond to regular commands, bring it inside and put it in a tub of cool water. Open-mouth breathing in cats is another warning signal, Bradley said.

"We've seen several cases this week of heat stroke in dogs," he said.

Bradley said that dogs with short noses or flat faces are more susceptible to the heat. Also, younger and older dogs, overweight dogs and dogs with a history of heart or lung disease can be more vulnerable.

Other reminders:

  • It's not always necessary to cut a dog's hair, but do brush dogs with thick coats.
  • Never leave a pet inside of a parked car.
  • Don't make dogs run hard during the hottest hours of the day. "Just like ourselves, we want to decrease the exercise during peak hours," Bradley said.

Farm animals also suffer during a heat wave.

Metsker has about 4,000 pigs on his farm, about 250 of which are kept outside. Those pigs have to sprayed down with water almost constantly, he said.

"It's pretty difficult on pigs because they don't sweat like humans do," he said. "That's why pigs have to have a mud hole to lay in."

Another concern to Metsker: "It's almost impossible for them to gain any weight in this kind of weather."

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