June 26 – As temperatures continue to rise, local vets are reminding dog owners to keep an eye on their pets during the summer heat.
Dr. Mark Ferrell, who has owned and operated the Town and Country Veterinary Clinic in McAlester since 1998, said the first thing on his mind when preventing summer-related health problems is to keep dogs away from hot vehicles.
“How fast a closed car is in Oklahoma in the summer, the temperature can get so high so quickly,” said Ferrell. “And so you don’t want to leave your dogs in the car for any time in Oklahoma during the summer.”
According to ASPCA, on an 85-degree day, the internal temperatures of a vehicle can rise above 100 degrees in just ten minutes and rise to 120 degrees in half an hour.
Another Ferrell concern is how hot concrete and asphalt get.
According to the ASPCA, even when the outside air temperature is 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the asphalt temperature can reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit due to the warming of the sun.
“Yes, dogs kind of have shoes with their pads on,” Ferrell said. “But these things are delicate and they can burn out.”
The ASPCA also states that dogs lying deeper on the ground can also heat up quickly, exposing them to heat stroke.
Dr. Stephen Walker, a veterinarian at Patton Animal Hospital and Oklahoma Vet Med in McAlester, says the signs of heat stroke in a dog are obvious.
“When a dog gasps that hard, it doesn’t seem to breathe,” said Walker. “If they’re lying there panting so hard that they can’t catch their breath, then you’re in trouble.”
Walker said that when circumstances arise that an owner cannot get their dog to the vet on time, cool water is used on the dog’s legs and torso.
“Try to avoid the head if you can,” Walker said. “Try to cool the rest of the body down and keep an eye on the temperature if you have a thermometer. If it drops below 102, you should be fine. “
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Both vets recommend that if a dog is outside for a long period of time, ensure that the animal has plenty of fresh, cool water.
Ferrell cited his days of labor on his family farm in southwest Oklahoma as an example of fresh cool water.
“As a teenager on daddy’s tractor and trying to drink hot water, yes you drank it but it was horrible,” Ferrell said.
Ferrell said that as long as there is plenty of water available, the dogs drink it themselves.
When it comes to getting used to the Oklahoma heat, Ferrell said that most dogs will get used to the heat well.
“Most dogs, with perhaps the exception of some of the northern dogs, can handle the Oklahoma heat really well once they get used to it,” Ferrell said. “As long as they have shade and water.”
Ferrell also shared some tips when it comes to moving a dog in the summer.
“If they go out and exercise too much, just like humans, they can get heat stroke,” Ferrell said.
Ferrell said the best times to exercise are in the morning and late evening hours, because a dog’s ability to cool itself off is different from that of humans.
“They cool themselves off by wheezing and letting air flow in and out through the oral cavity,” Ferrell said. “You really don’t sweat.”
Ferrell said the most important thing in any activity with a pet is to watch the animal and know when things need to be relaxed.
“We just have to be aware of all of these things,” said Ferrell.
Walker said that probably the most important thing a dog owner can do is vaccinate and preventive treatment to keep their pet happy and healthy.
“We’ve had Parvo like I’ve never seen it before this year. I’m worried a new strain will come through,” said Walker.
Walker also said that medication could easily prevent problems caused by worms and other parasites that are prevalent during the summer months.
“During the winter, the larvae that crawl around to infect are kept in check by cold weather,” Walker said. “When it gets warm and wet like it is now, they move around and we really get parasite problems.”
Another disease that is widespread during the summer months is leptospirosis, which can cause fever, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, and lethargy in dogs.
“You can get vaccinated against it,” said Walker.
If you are looking for a companion to accompany you on summer excursions or to hang around at home in the summer heat, you will find a new pet in the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter.
The adoption fee for a dog or cat in the shelter is $ 20.
“It includes age-appropriate and up-to-date vaccinations, castration or neutering, microchipping, deworming, and flea and tick treatment,” said Michele Van Pelt, director of the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter.
The shelter also has a puppy and kitten care program.
Puppies and kittens that are at least six weeks old can be cared for.
“The caregiver must bring the animal back for vaccination and deworming until it is large enough to be neutered or neutered, which usually takes about three months when kittens weigh three pounds,” said Van Pelt.
An appointment is no longer required to visit the animal shelter, located at 1206 N. West St. in McAlester, which can be reached at 918-423-7803. For up-to-date photos of animals up for adoption, visit the shelter’s Facebook page by searching for “Pittsburg County Animal Shelter”.
Editor Adrian O’Hanlon III contributed to this report.