Carbondale Animal Hospital veterinarian Benjamin Mackin says he works with dogs suffering from negative effects of the heat on a regular basis. He sees cases from mild to sever and says it’s almost always avoidable. The dogs suffer from being left in vehicles too long to having their paws burn against hot asphalt.
“I always try to remind people that no matter how much they love their pets, if it’s wicked hot out it’s best for everyone if they leave them home. And If you can’t do that you’re more than welcome to leave them here for a few hours.”
Mackin says the dogs most at risk for heat stroke are dark in color, overweight, older and may be of brachycephalic breed (meaning they have smushed faces, pugs, bulldogs, etc.). Some of the most severe occurrences stem from dogs at risk being left in cars.
“I really think rolling down your windows does very little to help the dog. Really, no dogs should be left for hours at a time in a car any time of the year,” he said. “I have a dark French Bulldog and I don’t leave him in the car alone even for ten minutes.”
Sometimes when dogs show signs of heatstroke their internal core can overheat and their organs can even become too warm.
“Worst case scenario, their organs start to fail, and they’re just too dehydrated so their body suddenly tries to correct the fact that there’s too much fluid in the body,” Mackin explained. “So it basically tries to eliminate some of the solids in the body which can cause essentially mini strokes throughout the body. It’s really horrifying.”
“Unfortunately there’s no rule of thumb and it really just depends on the dog when they can be left unattended in the heat. So everyone just has to rely on common sense for the safety of their pets and if they have any questions they can always call a vet.”
While there aren’t always easy guidelines there are a few tips that can help keep your pet safe.
“For one thing, I just try to remind people that your dogs can’t always do what you can. We have some wildly athletic people in the valley who love to run with their dogs and I just would advise them to think about leaving them at home or waiting until it’s a cooler time of day. I think just being more conscious about it helps. Because most people just don’t always think about it.”
Ben advises Carbondale residents to coordinate with others in advanced before going out for long. He would also like to remind people they are always welcome to leave their pets at the animal hospital if they have no other options.