Hot dawg

It’s summertime, which means popsicles, summer ales and flip-flops. Summer also means heat stroke, dehydration and exhaustion run rampant.

Illustration by Suraj Nair
Illustration by Suraj Nair

It’s summertime, which means popsicles, summer ales and flip-flops. Summer also means heat stroke, dehydration and exhaustion run rampant.

Since we’re sentient, “evolved” beings, we can usually muster up ways to counteract these things. However, our cats, dogs and other furry companions can’t speak up to let us know when the summer heat is too hot.

Every summer I see tons of dogs sitting outside restaurants, bars and grocery stores while their owners bask in the cool indoor air. Normally, these pets aren’t out there for a super long time; but these past few weeks have been especially warm and, without adequate water and shade, the heat poses a danger for all the puppies out there.

Luckily, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is here to help us out. They have a whole list of ways to keep companion animals safe during summer heat waves. Their first suggestion is to take your companion to the vet for an early summer checkup so he or she can be kept up to date on heartworm medication and other preventative shots.

Second, they stress making sure your pet has an abundance of water. Animals, especially dogs, tend to dehydrate faster than humans. If you’re taking your dog on a walk, bring along a water bottle, know which local cafes and stores provide water dishes outside and don’t be afraid to ask for water if necessary.

Their third suggestion is to not leave your companions in a parked car, ever! According to Dr. Louise
Murray, the vice president of the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, “A parked car can become a furnace in no time—even with the windows open—which could lead to fatal heat stroke.”

In addition, the ASPCA suggests trimming long-haired dogs and cats. However, never shave a dog during the summer; their fur protects them from overheating and sunburn. You can also find special sunscreens and insect repellents made for animals at pet supply stores.

The ASPCA also stresses being careful when bringing your dog or other animal to parties or barbecues. You have to be particularly mindful of the various foods there and whether they could be dangerous to your companion’s health.

I recently went to a basement house show where someone had brought a small dog downstairs. Words cannot convey how much I hate it when people bring their dogs to shows. Not only are you putting your animal at physical and psychological risk, you’re making yourself look bad. Dogs have excellent hearing, so why would you want to compromise that by bringing them to a live music environment they won’t enjoy? The band is not going to remember you for having the cute dog. They’re going to remember some jerk-off putting a fellow sentient being at risk. Use common sense.

Although the Fourth of July has come and gone, setting off fireworks is still a common summer activity. Never use fireworks around animals. Never use fireworks around animals. It’s not a hard concept to grasp, yet I’ve seen people with their dogs at nearly every fireworks display I’ve ever attended. Not only can your companion animals get burned, they can also suffer trauma or psychological damage.

Finally, know the signs that your companion is too hot! Panting, drooling, vomiting and collapsing are all sure-fire signs that your animal is too hot and has entered the heat danger zone. Get to the vet ASAP if you think your dog may have heatstroke, as it can cause organ damage and even death.

Other things you can do to help your animals include walking them in the early morning or the evening to avoid the heat; offering multiple ways to cool down (such as a frozen Kong toy filled with peanut butter); and avoiding hot sidewalks. If the sidewalk is too hot for your feet, it is definitely too hot for an animal to be walking on.

So there you have it. These are ways you can make summer a little more manageable for your animal companions. And if you don’t have animals, now you know how to spot trouble while you’re out and about for the last couple months of this lovely Portland summer.