Claremore Daily Progress

August 2, 2011

Pets require extra care in this heat

Tom Fink
Staff Writer

CLAREMORE — With no relief from the record-breaking temperatures in sight, Claremore Animal Control supervisor Jean Hurst wants to make sure people are taking care of their pets during the extreme heat.

And if they don’t, it may cost them.

“I hate to say it, but last month, we saw an increase in the number of cases of people not providing their outside pets with sufficient water or shelter,” Hurst said, “and in this kind of heat, it’s not just uncomfortable for the pet, it can be lethal.

“Pets need more water than usual this time of the year to keep themselves hydrated,” she said. “The heat causes water to evaporate even faster than usual, so it’s imperative that people provide their pets with protection from the heat — it’s the right thing to do.”

Not only is it the right thing to do, Hurst says, it’s the law.

“Claremore City ordinances cites the ‘mistreatment of animals’ as being any behavior which ‘deprives them of necessary food or drink’ — and we’ve gotten more calls than usual this summer to investigate cases of (animal) cruelty,” she said. “So if we find pet-owners to be in violation of this (ordinance), we’re authorized to issue them a $152 citation (ticket) which, I’m sad to say, we’ve already had to issue several (citations) this summer.”

Similarly, failing to provide pets with shelter, from the extreme heat or otherwise, is also a violation of a city ordinance, also punishable by $152 fine.

“The reasons for the fines (from the citations) aren’t for us to punish pet-owners, they’re means for us to reinforce following city ordinances as they pertain to treatment of animals,” she said. “People who act like it’s an inconvenience or expense to provide (food, water, and shelter) for their animals may find, in the long run, it’s much cheaper for them — and for their pet’s health — to take the extra time and care to make sure their pets are protected.”

Citations aside, Hurst said caring for pets during the months of extreme heat is a matter of responsible pet-ownership, and offers the following tips to safeguard your pet during the dog days of summer:

•  Heat prostration (overheating) can kill an animal, just as it can kill a human. Never leave an animal alone in a vehicle, since even with the windows open, a parked car, truck or van can quickly become a furnace. Parking in shade offers little protection, as the sun shifts during the day. When traveling, carry a gallon thermos filled with fresh, cold water.

•  Don’t force your animal to exercise after a meal in hot, humid weather. Always exercise him or her in the cool of the early morning or evening.

• In extremely hot weather, don’t leave your dog standing on the street, and keep walks to a minimum. He is much closer to the hot asphalt and his body can heat up quickly. His paws can burn since they are not protected by shoes.

•  Never take an animal to the beach unless you can provide a shaded spot and plenty of fresh water for her to drink. Rinse her off after she has been in salt water.

• Always provide ample shade for an animal staying outside the house. A properly constructed dog house serves best. If possible, bring your dog or cat inside during the heat of the day and let her rest in a cool part of your house. Always provide plenty of cool, clean water for your animal.

• Be sensitive to old and overweight animals in hot weather. Brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs (especially bulldogs, Pekingese, Boston terriers, Lhasa apsos and shih tzus) and those with heart or lung diseases should be kept indoors in air-conditioning as much as possible.

• Keep a current license and identification tag on your dog or cat and consider tattooing or microchipping as a means of permanent identification.

• Avoid walking your dog in areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals, as poisonings increase during the summer when gardens, lawns and trees are sprayed. These chemicals can sicken or kill an animal. Call your veterinarian if you suspect your animal has been poisoned.

• Be alert for coolant leaking from your vehicle. Animals are attracted to the sweet taste of coolant and ingesting just a small amount can cause an animal’s death. Consider using animal-friendly products that use propylene glycol rather than those containing ethylene glycol.

• A clean coat can help to prevent summer skin problems, so keep your dog or cat well groomed. If he has a heavy coat, shaving your dog’s hair to a 1-inch length will help prevent overheating. Don’t shave a dog’s hair down to the skin; this robs him of protection from the sun. A cat should be brushed frequently to keep his coat tangle-free.

• Take your pet animal to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer checkup, including a test for heartworm if your dog isn’t on year-round preventative medication. Have the doctor recommend a safe, effective flea and tick control program.

• Never tie an animal outside on a correction collar. He can choke to death. If you must tether him, use a buckle collar with identification tags instead. (This applies in any season.)

• Never let your animal run loose or unkept in a fenced yard — this is how an animal can contract a fatal disease, including rabies, or be injured, killed or stolen. Be sure there are no open, unscreened windows or doors through which your animal can fall or jump.

Additionally, this is also a citable offense (if not followed) under the “animals at large” Claremore city ordinance.