Dear Porky and Buddy,
I know that the heat and dryness in Central New York are nothing like
those poor folks in the West and Midwest are suffering, but still, it
has been a hot dry summer here and even with September approaching, we
are getting 90 degree days and no rain.
My elderly lab, Snoozer, just lies around all day in the heat and seems to be having a really hard time this year.
I had him shaved down so his coat was fairly short at the beginning of the summer, but that has grown back in.
I don’t think I should do it again as I know colder weather is coming eventually, but are there any other steps I can take to make him more comfortable now?
No, don’t shave him again.
In fact, it probably wasn’t that helpful at the beginning of the summer.
What many people don’t realize is that pets’ fur coats actually provide them with heat relief because they act almost like insulation, keeping the heat away from their bodies.
Dogs’ coats have several layers and these layers are essential to a dog’s comfort in both heat and cold.
Taking away this natural cooling system can actually lead to more discomfort and overheating, the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. (Plus Snoozer’s coat prevents him from getting sunburn and helps protect him from skin cancer.)
So what can you do?
Well, first of all, he’s old.
There’s nothing wrong with letting him lie around during the hottest part of the day – like a siesta!
Let him stay inside if you have a good spot for him and he can get his exercise later in the day when it starts to cool down.
If he spends his days outside, make sure his dog house is well-ventilated and in the shade.
How about getting him a plastic wading pool?
There’s nothing like the smell of damp dog to make it seem cooler for you too, right?
Leave fresh water for him everywhere — inside the house, on the porch, on the deck, in his dog house, under his favorite tree — so that he will be encouraged to drink a lot.
You have to change those water bowls every day.
There is the problem of mosquitoes breeding in water that is left out, but, more important, nobody likes slimy water.
Is he a little chubby for his age?
We hope not, but if so, remember that heat stroke is a very real threat to animals, especially if they are elderly and/or chubby, and it can be fatal even with prompt treatment.
Signs of heat stroke include panting, staring or stupor, breathing difficulty, an anxious expression, refusal to obey, warm dry skin, fever, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and collapse.
If you see any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately.
Get Snoozer out of direct heat and get him wet however you can — with towels soaked in cool water, with a hose, in his wading pool. (If you use towels, it will be most effective on less hairy parts of the body, like his belly and legs.) We hope this never happens, but it is important to know the signs and how to respond.
And pretty soon it will be much cooler and both you and Snoozer can
start to have fun again.
Coming up soon – The Barn Cat Boogie on Sept. 15 from 6 to whenever at the Fallbrook Recreation Center, 103 Thompson Road in Oswego.
A picnic dinner, dancing, silent auction. You can party until the cows come home!
And then, Strut Your Mutt, the Humane Society’s 5k Run or Walk and 1 Mile Family Walk at the same location on Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Registration is free but you can earn great prizes by collecting donations.
For information and to register for both events go to www.oswegohumane.org
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY.
Phone (315) 207-1070.
Because people and pets are good for each other.