Monday, August 13, 2012
We're having our first serious heat spell here in San Diego County and I've been remembering a very hot night six years ago. I was walking Zephyr not too far from our house when she was attacked by a loose dog--the same dog who attacked John and Bingley and killed Portia less than three years later. Zephyr was badly chewed from her lower back, to her hindquarters and down her tail. Since our vet's office was closed, I headed for the 24 hour emergency vet's. They were swamped. We waited and waited and waited, Zephyr dripping blood all the while. Why was such a badly injured dog treated last? It was because, ahead of Zephyr was a line of dogs with heat exhaustion. Their irresponsible owners had decided to take their dogs for a jog in hot weather. Even after the sun had gone down, it was way too hot for a dog to be running. Although Zephyr was seriously enough injured to require four drains and more stitches than I could count, she was in less critical condition than the dogs with heat exhaustion. So. Remember. Think. Do NOT take your dog for runs--or even more than potty-break walks in the heat. Don't run your dog on hot cement--or even worse, hot asphalt. Don't put your dog in a hot car while you are waiting for the air conditioning to kick in. I trust I do not have to remind you to NEVER leave your dog in a car. Cracked windows do not help. I don't believe in "outside" dogs. But if you insist on leaving your dog outside, be sure to provide plenty of shade and a source of fresh water. Do not shave a long haired dog. Their coat provides protection from heat as well as cold. Some short-haired--and certainly hairless breeds can sunburn. Take precautions. Older or ailing dogs are particularly vulnerable. Since learning of Bingley's heart condition, we are leaving the air conditioning on a lower setting for him when we leave the house. As I type, we are experiencing an "energy flex", which is code for not very effective air conditioning. Bingley and Magic are resting in the coolest places they can find, and I'll keep an eye on their water dishes. I don't know why these are called the Dog Days of Summer. They really aren't very easy days for dogs.