BRYAN, Texas — Many pet parents know the cardinal rules of heat safety for animals in the summer – keep them shaded and well-watered! The Aggieland Humane Society [AHS] shared some heat safety needs for animals you may not have even thought about, like the veterinary precaution: 'Don’t shave the dog!'
If your dog spends time outside during the summer, Texas law states that they must have access to shade and fresh water. But AHS staff said there are dangers to dogs whose only shelter is an enclosed space like a dog house or plastic igloo.
“Providing a dog house is not shade for your pet," said Leiha White, operations director with AHS. "That is just a heat box. They’re getting hotter and hotter in there. You can put a thermometer in there and you’ll find that dog house is likely well over 100 degrees.”
Dog owners know it’s important to exercise canine companions, especially ones with high energy. But unless you’ve got protective booties for their feet, pavement and asphalt will scald their paws. This is also true for the hot metal or plastic bed of a pickup truck, White said.
“Think about us when we go to lean on the bed of the pickup truck. Ow! Hot! Well, that is your dog’s feet," she said. "... Sometimes ranch and farm dogs want to [jump in the truck bed, when you’re going from one spot to another. Keep in mind how hot that is. In a very short amount of time you can burn the pads of your dog’s feet and they can’t walk. Then you’re out a resource there if they are a working dog.”
While some breeds like poodles may need the occasional trim, organizations like the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine warn that shaving a long-haired dog like a husky can actually make them more susceptible to heat.
“It definitely depends on the type of dog you have," said Savannah Gaines, also with AHS. "Your groomer will be able to point you in the right direction. Some dogs have double coats and it actually keeps them cool, so you don’t want to shave them.”
The shelter staff said that dogs don’t always know when to stop playing and running when they’re about to have a heat stroke. Animal owners are encouraged to out for disorientation, sticky saliva, rapid breathing, diarrhea, and vomiting in dogs, according to the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation.
Much of these symptoms are the same for cats left outside.