'It's like an oven': How high summer temps can be fatal for outdoor dogs

Posted at 4:16 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 17:36:46-04
On a day when most of us insist on staying indoors, one group works outside in the heat of the day.
"These dogs need to come inside at least when the temperatures are rising," explained Marlan Roberts with Spay and Neuter Kansas City. "It's not cool for a dog to be outside in these temperatures." 
Spay and Neuter Kansas City works in the urban core to check on pets left outside, sometimes without water, food or shade. 
"I've been out here for five minutes and I'm beginning to sweat," said Roberts. "There's sweat coming down my back and sweat coming down my face and I don't even have a full armor of fur on me. With fur on me, if I'm a dog outside, this is an oven - I'm baking, so it's not fair for the animal to be outside while you're in the cool temperatures."
On a stifling day, dogs only sweat on areas that aren't covered with fur - their noses and paw pads. It can make it really difficult for them to cool down. So when they're left outside on a hot day, that can cause heat stroke, which can lead to brain damage, organ failure, blindness and even death.
"That's the last thing we want to happen," said Roberts. "We know these community members love their pets, we know threat they want to do what's best. With temperatures elevated this high, the best thing to do would be to bring them inside to keep them cool."
And for pet owners with limited options, Spay and Neuter Kansas City advises them to talk to their landlords or roommates about moving their outside pets indoors, at least during the hottest part of the day. The organization will even hook you up with materials to make the transition easier.
Warm weather tips from the Humane Society
Never leave a pet unattended in a parked car when the temperature is more than 70 degrees: When it’s 72 degrees outside, a car’s temperature can rocket to 116 degrees, even with the windows cracked. When it is 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can soar to 120 degrees in minutes. Leaving a pet in a hot, unattended car is inhumane, illegal and can cause severe injury or even death within minutes.
Act immediately if you see a distressed animal in an unattended car: Call the local police and the Humane Society of Missouri ANIMAL CRUELTY HOTLINE  314-647-4400. A pet showing signs of distress such as heavy panting, unresponsive behavior, seizure or collapse needs IMMEDIATE attention.

Be certain outdoor pets have access to fresh, clean water at all times: Secure plastic water bowls, never metal, to the ground so your pet can't accidentally tip them over. You can dig a small round hole and place the water bowls inside.

Ensure that your pet has access to shade at all times of the day: Your dog might be in the shade when you leave for work, but the sunlight moves throughout the day. Don't allow your pet to be stranded in the scorching sun.

If you run or jog with your dog, take frequent water breaks for yourself and your dog:  Remember that asphalt and concrete get hot quickly. You have rubber soles on your feet--your dog does not. On hot days, leave your dog at home.

Do not bicycle or rollerblade with a pet: Heat stroke and possible death can occur very quickly, particularly in hot weather.

When the weather is dangerously hot, keep pets inside:  If your home is not air-conditioned, be sure to keep your pet in the coolest area of the house. Your basement may be several degrees cooler than the rest of the house and may provide relief from the heat. Always be sure to monitor your pet and the ambient temperature. Rising temperatures inside the home are just as dangerous as the outdoor heat!

Groom regularly: Your pet needs a well-groomed coat to help regulate his body temperature. Long-haired or northern breed dogs may need additional brushing or possibly a grooming during summer months; it's best to ask your vet or groomer about the best ways to keep your pet's coat.

If your pet is showing signs of heat exhaustion (excessive panting, vomiting, lethargic behavior), right away begin applying cold water to your pet's extremities and see your veterinarian immediately. 

During the summer, mosquitoes are prevalent. Make sure your pet is tested by a veterinarian for heartworm disease (a mosquito-transmitted, often fatal disease) and begin heartworm prevention medication.