Hot Weather Is Hard on Four-Legged Friends, Too

This dog tried to beat the heat while sitting in traffic. Durell Godfrey

The first heat wave has arrived on the South Fork, just as the Fourth of July holiday has begun.  

The Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is reminding residents that dogs and cats can suffer from heat-related emergencies as easily as people can. Overheating, dehydration, and even sunburn are all concerns for our four-legged friends. Some animals need extra care in hot weather, especially those that are old and overweight or have a heart or lung disease, the S.P.C.A. said. Certain breeds of dogs, including pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers, Lhasa apsos, and Shih Tzus, also need extra attention on hot days. 

Simple precautions can keep your pets healthy this summer: 

• Try to take your dogs for walks in the early morning or evening, and skip the exercise altogether when it's particularly hot or humid. 

• Be careful not to let your dog stand on hot asphalt, as their sensitive paw pads can easily burn and their body temperature can quickly heat up.

• For dogs with long-hair coats, be careful not to trim their coats to the skin, which can leave them vulnerable to sunburn.

• Always provide plenty of shade and cool, clean water for animals outdoors. If the dog lives outside, a proper doghouse is a must. If it's particularly hot, bring outdoor cats and dogs inside during the hottest part of the day. 

• Hitting the road this summer? When traveling with a pet during hot weather, carry a gallon-size thermos of water and consider freezing the water for long trips.

• Never leave an animal alone in a vehicle! Dogs and cats quickly overheat, and it can be fatal. Even with the windows open, a parked automobile can quickly become a furnace, the S.P.C.A. said.

• Gardens, lawns, and trees are sprayed with insecticides this time of year. Avoid walking dogs in suspect areas. If a pet has been exposed to dangerous chemicals — including coolant leaking from a car — call your veterinarian.

Signs of heat stroke or exhaustion, according to Pet MD, include panting, dehydration, excessive drooling, increased body temperature (above 103 degrees), reddened gums and moist tissues of the body, only a small amount of urine or no urine, and a rapid heart rate. If a pet shows any of these symptoms, contact a veterinarian immediately.