We all have ways to keep cool during the summer — but let's not forget to take care of our four-legged friends, too.
Dogs can sometimes be forgotten or a challenge to care for during the summer as we all try to cool down.
The best way to prevent overheating in the summer is don't leave your dog in a vehicle. Even if the vehicle's engine is running or the windows are cracked, inside temperatures can still reach dangerous levels and the animal won't have a way to escape.
“How quickly an enclosed car in summertime in Oklahoma, the temperature can get up so high so fast," Town and Country Veterinary Clinic owner Dr. Mark Ferrell told us for a story in our upcoming McAlester Living magazine to publish Saturday, June 26. “And so you don’t want to leave your dogs in a car — really for any period of time in the Oklahoma summer.”
A vehicle’s interior temperatures can exceed 100 degrees in 10 minutes and jump to 120 degrees in less than one hour on an 85-degree day, the ASPCA says.
So just like you wouldn't leave your toddler in a vehicle in those temperatures — don't leave your dog in there under those conditions.
Asphalt temperatures can also present danger to our pets.
A 77-degree day can still lead to asphalt temperatures reaching up to 125 degrees, which can burn dogs' paws.
“Dogs kind of have some shoes on with their pads,” Ferrell told us. “But those things are sensitive and those can burn through.”
Shorter dogs can also overheat quickly, which puts them at higher risk for heat stroke.
Some signs of heat stroke include heavy panting, increased heart rate, confusion, vomiting, diarrhea, bright red gums, seizures and more.
Dr. Stephen Walker, who is a veterinarian at Patton Animal Hospital and Oklahoma Vet Med in McAlester, told us to use water on the legs and torso if we can't get a pet to a vet quickly.
“Try to avoid, if you can, the head,” said Walker. “Try to cool down the rest of the body and keep track of their temperature if you have a thermometer. When it gets down below 102, you should be okay.”
Both local vets said to keep fresh, cool water available for pets through the summer and to limit outdoor exercise in extreme heat to avoid heat stroke.
Dogs don't sweat and can only cool themselves by moving air in and out of the oral cavity.
That makes it tougher for them to cool down so we need to watch out for our four-legged friends during the summer heat.
• McAlester News-Capital Editorial Board