By Kyle LoJacono
Summer has begun and Hillsborough and Pasco county departments want to help people protect their pets as the temperatures rise.
“We see a lot of problems each year with people calling us about their pets suffering from the heat,” said Hillsborough Department of Animal Services director Bill Armstrong. “Really, it’s rather simple to keep pets healthy and happy during the summer.”
Pasco Animal Services education director Rosemary Lyons agreed with Armstrong: “It’s just a matter of taking the right precautions just like you would with your children or yourself if you’re going outside in the heat.”
Both said it is important to have plenty of fresh, clean water available to dogs, cats and other pets at all times. Keeping them in cooler parts of the home will also help preserve their health.
Other tips from the departments include:
–Make shade available.
–Use caution when exercising dogs, even in the morning and evening.
–Limit outdoor exposure for older and younger pets, or those with heavy coats.
–Never leave a dog alone in a car for any length of time on warm days.
Even on mildly sunny days, cars can quickly become heated deathtraps for unattended dogs, according to Lyons. When the air is 85 degrees outside, a car can become 102 in just 10 minutes and can soar to 120 in 30 minutes.
Lyons added it is illegal to leave any animal in a car for any length of time. Cats can also suffer from heatstroke, but it is more common in dogs as they tend to be more active. Heatstroke can be fatal and requires immediate veterinary attention.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, signs of heatstroke include panting, staring, anxious expression, refusal to obey commands, warm and dry skin, high fever, rapid heartbeat, uncontrolled drooling, vomiting and collapsing.
If an animal is suffering from heatstroke and needs immediate attention:
–Submerge their body in cool, not icy, water or spray it lightly with a hose. Focus on cooling the head and neck area.
–Bring the animal inside an air-conditioned building.
–Do not force them to drink water, but offer it to them.
–Bring the animal to a vet as soon as possible.
For more information on protecting pets during hot summer months, visit the Hillsborough department’s website, www.hillsboroughcounty.org/animalservices, or call (813) 744-5660. For Pasco, visit portal.pascocountyfl.net or call (813) 929-1212.