Pets in danger during extreme heat


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

The heat wave that has burdened Texas farmers much of the summer has plagued animals of all shapes and sizes. Many have succumbed to the heat when not taken care of, while others have done whatever was needed to escape the excessive temperatures.

Dogs, cattle, and horses have been particularly vulnerable, according to Corp. Carl Townsend, Animal Control Supervisor for the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office. Cats can jump fences if left outside and find water and shade, she said, so they’re not as much at risk.

“We get several calls of dogs being down with heatstroke with the water bowl right beside them,” Townsend said. “Also, they may have turned over the water, but with the owners gone all day and they don’t know. When the water bowl is turned over, bad things happen. In this heat, water evaporates a lot faster. And the pavement or sidewalk is hurting their feet. Even the dirt is too hot at times.”

Townsend said some dogs are breaking out of their usual confinement to find shade and water.

Pets should never be left in a vehicle, even with the car or truck running, according to Humane Society of America. Temperatures can cause irreversible organ damage, or they may even die if left in the heat. Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves and their temperature will exceed to dangerous levels very quickly.

The heat has had similar effects on livestock.

“We’ve got livestock trying to break through the fence to find some water,” Townsend said. “Dogs and horses are going down, also. The water is going down in some ponds and cattleman are cutting their herd in half to try to maintain some semblance of a herd. All of the ranchers are hurting right now.”

According to American Red Cross, nothing kills more pets during the summer months than heatstroke. Dogs with short noses, such as pugs and bulldogs, are most sensitive in high temperatures, as are overweight dogs and those on medication. Young animals and dark-colored animals are most at risk for heat stress.

Fans don’t do much for animals. Dogs primarily sweat through their feet.

“Anything I can do to help the animals in this county, I’m all for it,” Townsend said.

The Humane Society lists several pet protections during the heat. Those include:

* Don’t leave pets outside for extended periods of time. If you do have an outside pet, check their water bowl every two hours.

* Never leave your pet in a hot car. Temperatures can increase by 20 degrees in just 10 minutes.

* Check for hot pavement as the pads on pets’ paws can burn. Animals can sunburn just like humans.

* Keep them hydrated and cool. Even indoor dogs need cool, fresh water. If a dog shows signs of overheating, cool them off immediately. Spraying with cool water helps.

* Alter your pet’s daily routine — walk at dawn and dusk

* Avoid extensive sun exposure

* Stay update on preventative medications. Mosquito larvae carry heartworms. Muggy weather makes this an even bigger issue than other times. Fleas are also a big problem in warmer weather.

* When the temperature reaches 100 degrees, it’s best to bring your pet indoors.

Signs of distress for pets in the heat:

* Panting or heavy breathing.

* Disorientation

* Collapsing or convulsing

* Brick red gums

* Vomiting or diarrhea

* If a dog does cool off in a pool with chlorine, rinse of the dog because chlorine can be an irritant to the skin, eyes or ears of some.


Egg production with chickens is usually decreased during the heat due to less food intake, which in turn means less calcium for the birds. If such birds do lay, there is a danger of eggshell quality. Eggs should be picked up as early as possible due to the heat, according to Poultry Extension.

Hens do not have the ability to sweat, therefore they can quickly overheat, so shade and water are critical for them in the excessive heat.


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