Escaping the boredom of being at home in a safe way has brought people and their dogs out to trails, parks and water spots. These experiences are uplifting and provide physical and mental benefits for the whole family. However, the Texas summer months introduce more hazards, including algae blooms and heat exhaustion.
Last year, a handful of dogs lost their life after a family outing. They were exposed to the toxic bacteria that gloms onto the blue-green algae living in some Central Texas waters. Algae blooms typically occur during the late summer when conditions are hot and dry.
Before planning a dip in a water way, research the water’s conditions. Or create a water wonderland in your back yard. At the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter, staff and volunteers set up our own water park for the dogs, including kid pools, sprinklers and hoses to create a fun experience and keep everyone cool in the summer heat.
Heat exhaustion, or hyperthermia, is the elevation of an animal’s body temperature not caused by an internal infection. A dog’s normal body temperature is around 101° F. The symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy panting, weakness, vomiting and dehydration.
Brachycephalic dogs, or those with short snouts, such as bulldogs or pugs, and dogs with heavy, ungroomed coats are more susceptible to the heat and should be watched closely when outside in high temperatures. If these symptoms progress untreated, the dog may enter heat stroke. This stage is extremely life threatening and includes diarrhea followed by seizures, coma and potentially death.
Luckily, there are many ways to keep your pets safe from heat exhaustion.
Prevention: During hot days, make sure your animals have plenty of clean drinking water wading water, and shade. Treat heat advisory warnings (days in which the temperatures will create a situation making heat exhaustion and stroke likely) as importantly as freeze warnings and bring your pets inside. Lost dogs are at risk of heat exhaustion because they no longer have easy access to their shade and water resources.
Hand test: Test the pavement with your hand before letting your dog walk on those surfaces. Hold your hand on the pavement for five seconds (if you can). If you cannot hold your hand against the hot pavement for all five seconds or if it was very hot to do so, do not let your dog walk on the pavement. Instead, find times to walk your dog when the temperature is cooler, such as the mornings or evenings.
Grooming: Keep your dog groomed, but do not give him a short shave for the summer months. A dog’s coat acts as an insulator. Not only does it keep them warm during the winter, it actually helps them from overheating in the summer. Dogs will naturally shed into their summer coats. Help the process by taking your dog to a professional groomer or brushing out the winter layers of his coat.
Staying hydrated: When out with your dog, keep yourself and your pup hydrated. This could be as simple…