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Fido Needs To Beat The Heat Too: Caring For Pets In The Summer

By Jocelyn Cook, Contributing Writer

OSWEGO, NY – Here in Oswego County, people aren’t strangers to the heat and humidity of a Central New York summer.

We do everything from cranking up the AC, to heading out on the boat for the breeze and maybe a dip in the lake, to relaxing poolside with a cool drink.

The recent stretch of hot, muggy days has put these methods to the test.

Barnaby has a rough time when the temperature rises. To stay cool, he likes to crunch on ice cubes while relaxing on the deck.
Barnaby has a rough time when the temperature rises. To stay cool, he likes to crunch on ice cubes while relaxing on the deck.

But in all the talk of the effect of heat on people, there hasn’t been much said about our furry friends who are going through the same thing.

Pets are just as affected by the heat as their human counterparts, if not more.

Most are covered in fur, generally, and can’t do all the things we do to keep cool.

They count on us to help.

In Pennellville, Brielle Dailey does all she can to help keep her pets comfortable when the temperatures rise. She has three cats, Devlin, Darcy, and Baby, and a 130-pound St. Bernard named Barnaby.

“They always find a nice, cool place,” she said, “But I make sure they have enough water and keep them inside.”

Dailey also said she brushes Barnaby often to get rid of excess fur and feeds him ice cubes that he likes to crunch on.

The cats tend to keep to themselves, hiding out in her cool basement for comfort.

Jennifer LaBrake Epolito, of Fulton, also has a cat, Little Nicky Boots, and a Pomeranian mix named Lola.

Lola, she said, “loves sitting by fans and AC units.”

She recalls one time she attempted to keep her cool when she briefly left the house.

In the hot, humid days of summer you should keep your pet’s water dish filled. Straws are optional.
In the hot, humid days of summer you should keep your pet’s water dish filled. Straws are optional.

“I put Lola in her cage with a bowl of ice, which I felt would give her a bit of drinking water and cool her down,” she said. “She was thoroughly soaked when I got home a few hours later, so clearly, that worked.”

LaBrake Epolito says she’s never had a problem with her pets in the heat, but also knows not to endanger them by doing things like putting Lola’s cage in the sun.

Carrie Adrian, Baldwinsville, has a black lab named Stubby and a toy fox terrier, Zoey, who she said, “can’t stand the heat.”

“Zoey has this thing when we take a walk out back to the pond,” Adrian said. “She rolls around in the damp grass. Stubby jumps in the pond and just stands there. Zoey is too small and isn’t allowed in the pond, so we had to buy her a kiddie pool.”

Other pets react differently in the summer heat, like Phoenix resident Allison Russ’ bearded dragon, Mavoric.

He “loves the heat,” she said. “He always has a heat lamp on him because he needs heat.”

Colleen Henry, of Phoenix, is the proud owner of two dumbo-eared rats.

They aren’t fans of the summer weather, she said.

Hera and Evey, she said, prefer a “cold environment.”

“They haven’t been able to nestle close to each other to sleep comfortably and they drink more water as any animal does in this type of weather. I keep the fans on and the windows open in the room they’re in and make sure they are hydrated,” she said.

But what about pet owners who are not as attentive?

We’ve all heard the horror stories of dogs being locked in cars, overheating very quickly to the point of extreme distress and even death.

On a hot summer day, the temperature in a hot car can quickly raise up to 120 degrees.

LaBrake Epolito remembers one day this past school year when she encountered such an event.

Little dogs, like Lola, need to be monitored in the heat for signs of distress just as much as bigger, heavier dogs. Younger family members, like Anthony Epolito, pictured here, can help.
Little dogs, like Lola, need to be monitored in the heat for signs of distress just as much as bigger, heavier dogs. Younger family members, like Anthony Epolito, pictured here, can help.

“We had a student who left two large dogs in his car all day, and someone did call the police thankfully,” she said. “I was heated, and felt the student should be left in a car to see how it feels to hold your bladder all day while sharing a small space with your oversized brother.”

If you see an animal locked in a car, you should first try to locate the owner and explain the dangers, but if one cannot be found, contacting your local police department is encouraged.

For neglecting their pet, the owner can be charged with animal abuse.

As for your own pets, watch for signs of heat stroke such as a higher temperature, increased panting, weakness, vomiting, anxiety, and bright red gums.

If you suspect your pet may be suffering, contact your veterinarian immediately.

When you’re trying to keep cool this summer, just remember to watch out for your pets as well.

Hydration and monitoring is key.

Your pets will appreciate being provided with water and a cold place to relax. Consider the slobber your dog shares with you a thank you for keeping that water bowl full.

1 Comment

  1. THANK you for running this story! It is a nice reminder. Also, many people don’t understand that even when they are able to tolerate the heat, it may be because we humans can sweat, something our furry friends don’t do. IF we only had our mouths, the balls of our feet, we were running a temperature of over 100 (the average for a dog is over 100), we’d be pretty hot with a fur coat on!

    So, we need to keep the animal in a cool place (and even under a tree with the windows open, that tin box can get pretty warm!), and give them plenty of water.

    A furry pet can seem okay, but sometimes their immune systems are compromised, and they may get sick and even die a week or after an episode of dehydration in the car.

    A BIG pet lover in Oswego!

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