Dogs and summertime care
Before getting to the heart of this article, CAPS volunteers will be waiting for your wonderful donations for our garage sale to be held on Sept. 20–21. Spring Valley Rentals has donated the use of storage unit 85A at 1105 Taylor Place (the street next to Walmart). We will be there tomorrow from 9 a.m. to noon. (We will also be taking donations on Aug. 10, 17 and 24.)
Can’t make it on those dates, are housebound or have items too big to handle? Well, we’ll come get them! (We’ve already picked up a piano.) All you need to do is call Rita Hand, and she will schedule a pickup for you (home: 775-423-6346; cell: 775-427-3376). Should Rita not immediately take your call, please leave a message, and she will return your call as soon as she can.
Right now, we’re well into the dog days of summer (named after the “dog star,” Sirius). This year it’s been exceptionally hot with too many triple-digit days and extremely low humidity. We hear and read public service announcements advising humans how to avoid heatstroke, but this same advice applies to those four-legged canine friends who spend most, if not all, of their time outdoors.
On days when temperatures rise so high, if you can, keep your pal indoors where it’s cooler. For some people, this is often difficult to do; for example, they are gone all day for work and have dogs who “misbehave” when left alone, or they may have working dogs whose lives are always spent outdoors. Others may have a furry pal who would rather just be outside than stuck in the house (my late dog, Lucy, was one of those dogs).
To help Fido stay as cool as he can, make sure he has shade and plenty of water. If you have shade trees, nature provides a solution. If not, please provide some shade for him. Perhaps you have a shaded patio or porch that he can access. If you don’t, a utility tarp rigged on poles is an inexpensive fix, but all sides must be open, whether the tarp is on poles or covering a kennel. Covered sides will turn this setup into an oven, which may kill your pal.
UV-shade netting, sold in nurseries and ranch stores (as well as online), is another option. Although not rainproof, it allows air to freely escape, unlike plastic tarps and metal and plastic roofs. You might consider buying a hard-sided kiddie pool, but this will need more tending to. Water must be changed often (I’d say at least every other day) to avoid algae, slime and a mosquito haven. Water also will become more like that in a hot tub than a cooling pool.
Some “clumsy” dogs often tip over their water bowls, but other accidents can also happen. To avoid this, use a bucket (dog-height-appropriate size) weighted down with a heavy rock. Or, if the bucket has a handle, tie it to something structurally sturdy. Then just fill it to the brim with water, cool if available.
However, bad things do happen sometimes even if you have taken every precaution to keep your pal safe and comfortable. Suppose you come home from work and find your best friend in great distress or unconscious in what appears to be heatstroke. Symptoms include glazed eyes, excessive thirst, heavy panting, restlessness or lethargy, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, rapid heartbeat, fever, dizziness, vomiting and a deep red or purple tongue.
Immediately take the following steps to gradually lower his body temperature: Move him into the shade or an air-conditioned/cooled room. Apply ice packs or cold towels to his head, neck and chest or immerse him in cool, not cold, water. Give him small drinks of water or let him lick ice cubes. If he doesn’t respond to your care, take him to your veterinarian.
As a final note, please leave your furry pal home when running chores as CAPS requested in this column on May 17. On June 10, three dogs rode out with their person, who left them in a closed car, and only one returned (see “CAPS Corner,” June 28.) Don’t let this happen to your best friend.
This week’s article was contributed by Betty Duncan, a member of the CAPS board of directors.