The following is a message from MSPCA-Angell, headquartered in Jamaica Plain:
In anticipation of...warming temperatures, veterinarians at Angell Animal Medical Center are cautioning dog owners to take greater care in acclimating their pets to the heat, as the first few days of Spring bring the greatest risk of overheating.
According to Dr. Kiko Bracker, a veterinarian in Angell’s Emergency & Critical Care Unit, dogs at the greatest risk of suffering heat-related illness during the Spring are older, brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds or those with existing illnesses affecting their respiratory tract or heart. Studies in humans repeatedly show that people need two to three weeks to acclimatize to warmer temperatures—and the veterinary community believes the same holds true for dogs.
“It takes on average about two to three weeks for dogs to become tolerant of warmer temperatures,” said Dr. Bracker. “Now that the sun is shining and temperatures are warming it’s natural to want to head out for long walks or runs with our pets—but we must all take great care to avoid overheating our dogs, which can lead to heat stroke and, in some instances, death.”
Dog owners unwittingly put their dogs at risk at this time of year by encouraging them to run, chase toys or just be with them in the sun. Dogs are always eager for this kind of activity, given their highly social nature, and they all too often will overexert themselves. Dr. Bracker offers the following tips to help dog owners acclimatize their pets to warmer temperatures while still enjoying time outside:
- Make sure your dog has a check-up! A Springtime check-up will reveal any heart or respiratory issues that should be addressed before pets become more active in the summer months.
- Ensure dogs always have ready access to shade, water and rest—parks with leafy trees and soft ground along with streams or ponds (in which dogs can cool off) offer wonderful recreational opportunities with plenty of space to rest and cool off
- Try to exercise dogs in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are lower
- Be especially cautious with dogs who have short noses, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, as these dogs are especially vulnerable to overheating
- Never leave pets inside a car—which can heat up to 110 degrees in 10 minutes on an 80-degree day even with the windows slightly open.
For more tips on keeping pets safe during hot weather readers can click here.